BUSINESS US maximizes pressure on TikTok ahead of deadline


US maximizes pressure on TikTok ahead of deadline

Global Times

23:27, September 18, 2020

WeChat TikTok Photo:VCG

With the US Commerce Department announcing Friday a ban on the use of WeChat and TikTok, two days ahead of the deadline previously set to determine the fate of two China-originated apps, the Trump administration has gone to the extreme to turn the US market into a slaughterhouse for Chinese firms.

Industry observers said this shows President Donald Trump's determination to kill China's high-tech companies, which could have been motivated by US firms aiming to prevent top Chinese tech firms from penetrating their home turf.

The US Commerce Department issued an order Friday banning any transactions on Tencent's messaging app WeChat and the popular short video app TikTok in the US starting September 20.

It will prohibit "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," the US Department of Commerce statement said on Friday.

China's Commerce Ministry didn't reply to a request for comment as of press time. Requests sent to ByteDance and Tencent seeking comment also went unanswered.

The prohibitions came one day after a fresh move to clamp down on Tencent's stakes in US gaming firms.

On Thursday, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) asked about US video game companies' involvement with Tencent, which holds a significant stake in Epic Games, Riot Games and other gaming companies in the US, Bloomberg reported.

In the name of so-called "security concerns," the Trump administration looks to strike the world's largest gaming company and China's second largest company by market value by requiring the companies' protocols for handling Americans' personal information.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, said "Tencent and TikTok will not be the Trump administration's last targets, as China's high-tech growth is irresistible."

The Friday ban came after a potential deal for a TikTok sale had been reportedly reached with US software company Oracle. But the deal is currently awaiting Trump's approval.

"Announcing the ban ahead of September 20, the US government wants to impose extreme pressure on TikTok again, and leaves the Chinese company less space in negotiating a deal with the US company," Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times.

He hailed ByteDance as a good example for other potential Chinese "targets."

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