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China yells US 'digital gunboat diplomacy' over TikTok

09:12 | 18/08/2020

China on Monday slammed Washington for using "digital gunboat diplomacy" after US President Donald Trump ordered TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance to sell its interest in the Musical.ly app it bought and merged with TikTok.

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tiktok potential buyers to ease trumps concerns as bytedance to fight back TikTok: Potential buyers to ease Trump's concerns as ByteDance to fight back
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china yells us digital gunboat diplomacy over tiktok
Trump has claimed TikTok could be used by China to track the locations of federal employees, build dossiers on people for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage

As tensions soar between the world's two biggest economies, Trump has claimed TikTok could be used by China to track the locations of federal employees, build dossiers on people for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.

The order issued late Friday builds on sweeping restrictions issued last week by Trump that TikTok and WeChat end all operations in the US.

Earlier this month, President Trump issued an executive order banning the social media company TikTok from the United States, as long as the company continues to be owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The order effectively gives ByteDance 45 days to sell TikTok off, and Microsoft has emerged as a prospective buyer.

Many would celebrate TikTok's potential reinvention as an American brand as a win-win for US consumers and national security: Consumers get to keep using a popular app, and Beijing loses a potential avenue to spy on Americans and influence what users encounter on social media.

china yells us digital gunboat diplomacy over tiktok
President Trump issued an executive order banning the social media company TikTok from the United States.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday said "freedom and security are merely excuses for some US politicians to pursue digital gunboat diplomacy" -- referring to vessels used by Western imperial powers during the nineteenth century, which China considers a deeply humiliating period in its history, according to the france24.

TikTok -- which is not available in China -- has sought to distance itself from its Chinese owners.

Zhao said TikTok had done everything required by the US, including hiring only Americans as its top executives, hosting its servers in the US and making public its source code.

But the app has been "unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest", Zhao said at a regular press conference.

ByteDance bought karaoke video app Musical.y from a Chinese rival about three years ago in a deal valued at nearly a billion dollars. It was incorporated into TikTok, which became a global sensation -- particularly among younger users.

The order, set to take effect in 90 days, retroactively prohibits the acquisition and bars ByteDance from having any interest in Musical.ly.

Trump ordered that any sale of interest in Musical.ly in the US had to be signed off on by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which is to be given access to ByteDance books.

china yells us digital gunboat diplomacy over tiktok
ByteDance faces superficially similar circumstances: sell TikTok, or risk losing access to the American market.

TikTok appointed former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, an American, as its new chief executive in May, and also withdrew from Hong Kong shortly after China imposed a controversial new security law on the city.

Now ByteDance faces superficially similar circumstances: sell TikTok, or risk losing access to the American market. US trade diplomats should expect criticism from not only their Chinese counterparts, but from allied countries around the world who share concerns over China's digital exports. Ideally, US diplomats would counter critics and skeptics with a rigorous analysis that explains how foreign ownership compounds privacy, security and disinformation risks beyond what is acceptable for a domestic company, and they could then explain why an outright ban in this case is a justifiable response. But this is a tough case to make without a safety baseline to measure these risks, said the CNN.

A federal data protection law is good not only for consumer privacy, but for diplomacy -- especially when it comes to the United States' efforts to deal with China's rise in the digital domain and beyond.

tiktok plans to sue the trump administration as early as tuesday in a report TikTok plans to sue the Trump administration as early as Tuesday in a report

TikTok, famous Chinese video-sharing app, is reportedly planning to sue the Trump administration after his executive order issued for banning the service from the United States.

trump signed a ban on tiktok wechat Trump signed a ban on TikTok, WeChat

On August 6, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning any transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the video-sharing app TikTok.

chinese media decries uss forced buy tiktok theft Chinese media decries US's forced buy TikTok "theft"

Chinese media responded fiercely against the US move to ban TikTok and called this as a robbery.

Tarah Nguyen