While the US Commerce Department announced TikTok would be banned from app stores starting on Sunday, other restrictions on TikTok will come in effect on November 12.
The timing indicates the still elusive nature of the complicate situation surrounding the fate of TikTok, which is unlikely to shut down before the US presidential election on November 3, experts said.
According to an order from the US Commerce Department on Friday, “any provision of service to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the US” will be prohibited, with restrictions on WeChat taking effect on Sunday and TikTok’s on November 12.
After the order, US President Donald Trump on Friday said that a deal between social media app TikTok and a US-based company could “go quickly.”
“Apparently, the US government is not satisfied with the partnership deal between TikTok and Oracle, because they want more, and in order to get more, they will impose more pressure on TikTok,” Xiang Ligang, an independent telecom industry analyst, told the Global Times on Saturday.
But based on the US order, it is also unlikely for TikTok to be shut down before the election, analysts said.
“To a certain extent, it’s a ‘smart move’ for Trump’s presidential campaign. The order prevents TikTok from adding new users, while at the same time its current users won’t be affected and feel annoyed before the voting,” Xiang noted.
Experts generally believe that given the complex situation and limited time, TikTok’s fate is likely to be decided only after the presidential election.
“Considering the technical restrictions by the Chinese side, the TikTok deal won’t be a plus point for Trump in the presidential election,” Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Saturday.
There are too many possibilities that companies may find a second solution to meet the regulatory requirements of both countries, according to Gao.
Xiang echoed with Gao, noting that it is also possible that the US may delay the deadline to give them more time to work out a deal, because it doesn’t appear determined to kill TikTok for the time being.
The order has also drawn criticism from the Chinese side.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday in a statement that China firmly opposes the US government’s ban on WeChat and TikTok, for it has seriously damaged the legitimate rights and interests of companies and disrupted normal market order.
China will take necessary measures to protect the interests of Chinese firms, if the US insists on its way.
TikTok said in a statement that "We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the US from November 12".