Despite US President Joe Biden on Wednesday temporarily revoking the bans previous president Donald Trump imposed on the Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok, it is evident that Washington has still not got over its Cold War funk.
In his executive order on the move, Biden said the apps' (alleged) collecting of data from Americans "threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information", and directed the commerce department to "evaluate on a continuing basis" any transactions that "pose an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of the critical infrastructure or digital economy of the United States."
It should be noted that, according to the White House, a separate US national security review of TikTok launched in late 2019 remains active and ongoing, as the administration remains "very concerned" about certain countries — China being the only one named — that seek to "leverage digital technologies and Americans' data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian controls and interests".
So the Biden administration still sees Chinese internet companies' operations in the United States as a threat. And by instructing the commerce department to make recommendations to protect US data within 120 days, he is telling the world that not only is he intent on correcting his predecessor's errors, he is also busy trying to stamp his own mark on his predecessor's policies to contain China.
He has not only willingly accepted the Donald Trump administration's policy legacy — which includes, and is certainly not limited to, stigmatizing China by means of probes to trace the origins of the novel coronavirus, blacklisting Chinese technology companies, levying unreasonable tariffs on imports from China, making efforts to decouple the US' economy from China's, and smearing China's de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang — he is determinedly trying to shape it into a form that is more agreeable to the US' allies as part of his own "shared values" diplomatic offensive.
The remarkable speed with which China's top legislature introduced the National Security Law for Hong Kong, which has made a big difference to the city in such a short period of time, and it has drafted, reviewed and passed its first anti-foreign sanctions law on Thursday — which will make its responses to foreign sanctions more coherent, systematic and to-the-point — demonstrates Beijing's recognition that it has to cope with the increasingly confrontational forces targeting China.
The US and its allies are increasingly resorting to weaponized sanctions to put pressure on Beijing. But that is a miscalculation as Beijing will never yield to them, and none of them will be left unscathed by the sanctions.
Although Beijing is always open to dialogue and cooperation, what the US and its allies have been doing has prompted it to quickly strengthen its constitutional and legal defenses in preparation for further external offensives.