China responds to the United States by accusing Trump for “bullying” over popular video app TikTok, after President Donald Trump ramped up pressure for its US operations to be sold to an American company.
In the latest of a series of diplomatic spats between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing hit back after Trump gave TikTok six weeks to arrange a sale of its US operations — and said that his government wanted a financial benefit from the deal.
China responds to US over planned sanctions on TikTok
“This goes against the principles of the market economy and the (World Trade Organization’s) principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. His statements make it clear that China is intent on responding to the US over a probable ban on TikTok.
“It’s outright bullying.”
The app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds, because it collects large amounts of personal data on users and is legally bound to share it with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.
Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, and has given ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal, a tactic that is almost unheard of.
“It’s got to be an American company… it’s got to be owned here,” Trump said on Monday. “We don’t want to have any problem with security.”
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 4, 2020
Beijing slammed the move as “political manipulation”.
Wang told a regular press briefing Tuesday: “The US, without providing any evidence, has been using an abused concept of national security… unjustifiably suppressing certain non-US companies.”
Read more: TikTok to be another casualty in US-China Cold War China responds TikTok US
He said the national security grounds for the US’s clampdown on Chinese firms “does not hold water”, adding that the companies conduct their business activities in accordance with international rules and US laws.
“But the US is cracking down on them on trumped-up charges,” said Wang, who warned the US not to “open Pandora’s box”.
TikTok has as many as one billion worldwide users, who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app.
But the pressure for a sale of its US and international business, based in Los Angeles, has left the company and its Chinese parent ByteDance facing tough decisions.
Background: Pompeo says Trump to announce TikTok ban
President Donald Trump is days away from announcing strong action against the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok to protect US national security, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday. Trump has been talking about the TikTok ban for weeks now. It is likely given the nipping relations that Mr.Pompeo is right and President Trump is set to ban TikTok in the upcoming days.
He said TikTok and other Chinese software companies operating in the US, such as WeChat, feed personal data on American citizens directly to the Chinese Communist Party.
For years the US has put up with this because Americans felt “we’re having fun with it,” Pompeo said.
Chinese apps accused of spying on the population
“President Trump has said, ‘Enough,’ and we’re going to fix it,” Pompeo told Fox News.
“And so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
Read more: Should TikTok be banned in Pakistan? China responds TikTok US
TikTok defends itself, calls itself a “global company”
On Monday, ByteDance said in a statement that it has always been committed to becoming a global company.
“Based on the current situation, ByteDance is considering re-establishing TikTok headquarters in major markets outside the United States to better serve global users,” the statement said.
It MUST be illegal for a "president" to ask for the US Treasury to get a cut of a potential deal between Microsoft and TikTok, right?
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) August 3, 2020
UK media reported that it was considering a relocation to London.
ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming also acknowledged on Monday “mounting complexities across the geopolitical landscape and significant external pressure” faced by the company, in a letter to staff, reported by Chinese media.
He added that the company has “always been committed to ensuring user data security, as well as the platform neutrality and transparency”.
Meanwhile, Wang urged the US on Tuesday to “refrain from politicising economic issues” and to provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign market players.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk