WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump wants to ban the international video platform TikTok in his country. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we are banishing it from the United States,” Trump said on Friday evening (local time), journalists traveling with Trump in his Air Force One official plane. “Well, I have that power. I can do it with a presidential decree,” or an economic emergency, he said.
TikTok is an internationally very successful video platform from the Chinese company ByteDance, which is offered in 65 languages in 175 markets. Users can upload their own video clips there or view others. In mainland China there is only the censored version Douyin. Representatives of the US government have warned on several occasions that data on US citizens could come into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party via Tiktok.
TikTok assures that the platform is about creative content that protects “privacy and security”. “TikTok is not offered in China,” said a TikTok spokeswoman for the German Press Agency on Saturday. The Chinese government has no access to user data and has never asked for it. The user data would be stored and processed in the USA.
Because of suspicion abroad, ByteDance is trying to separate its international platform from the Chinese version. TikTok was only active in Hong Kong, but the platform was withdrawn from the Special Administrative Region after the controversial new security law was announced.
Washington had already banned US military personnel from using the TikTok app on service smartphones at the end of 2019. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not banned TikTok and other apps from China in early July. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced in the presence of Trump that the U.S. government was reviewing the platform by the interdepartmental overseas investment control committee (CFIUS), and a recommendation would be made to the president based on it.
But TikTok is not only experiencing headwinds in the USA. The platform has already been banned in India, which recently delivered border skirmishes with China. The neighboring country Pakistan blocked the video platform Bigo and warned TikTok against offering immoral or vulgar content.
TikTok made an effort on Saturday to make it publicly clear what a ban on the platform in the United States would mean. In a video message, the US director of the platform, Vanessa Pappas, said she was proud of the 1,500 employees in the US who work on the app every day and the additional 10,000 jobs that TikTok will generate in the next three years would bring the country.
In the US, TikTok claims to have 100 million users. The largest TikTok investors come from the United States, the company explains. The news agency Bloomberg, the US software company, reported on Friday Microsoft negotiate to buy US business from TikTok. However, according to the journalists traveling with him, Trump made it clear that he was against it.
Users of the social network might have contributed to the high expected number of visitors before Trump’s campaign appearance in June – in the end, many places remained empty. Media had reported that there had been a coordinated effort at TikTok to register for a ticket for free but not to appear for the event in the state of Oklahoma.
The Chinese government criticizes Washington’s actions. “The US is guilty of guilt and threatens Chinese companies for no reason,” Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Thursday. The US should offer all market participants an “open, fair and non-discriminatory environment”.
The mood between the two major powers is extremely tense. From a Chinese perspective, the relationship is as bad as it has been since diplomatic relations began in 1979. The United States recently ordered the Chinese consulate to be closed in Houston, Texas, whereupon Beijing closed an American agency in Chengdu. The countries are already in dispute over China’s handling of the Corona virus outbreak, trade policy and tough Chinese behavior in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.