Hong Kong News

A whole world on a single island
Sunday, Nov 29, 2020

Trump to move against TikTok and ‘countless’ other Chinese tech firms

Trump has said ‘enough’ and will take action in coming days over software ‘connected to Chinese Communist Party’, adds US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

US President Donald Trump will take action against TikTok, WeChat and “countless” Chinese software companies that pose a national security threat to America, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, apparently widening the scope of attention the US government is paying to online tech platforms developed in China.

“These Chinese software companies doing business the United States, whether it's TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more ... are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party their national security apparatus,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “It could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends who they're connected to.”




US President Donald Trump will take action against TikTok, WeChat and “countless” Chinese software companies that pose a national security threat to America, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, apparently widening the scope of attention the US government is paying to online tech platforms developed in China.

“These Chinese software companies doing business the United States, whether it's TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more ... are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party their national security apparatus,” Pompeo said in a Fox News interview. “It could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends who they're connected to.”

Focusing on TikTok specifically, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department is overseeing a national security review of the company, said on Sunday that the company will need to be blocked in the US or sold to another company.

All members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency review body housed within the Treasury Department agree that TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, “cannot stay in the current format because it risks, sending back information on 100 million Americans”, Mnuchin said in an ABC interview.

TikTok, which lets users create and share 15 second videos with custom music clips, has built a huge user base in the US, particularly within younger age brackets.

Responding to the drumbeat of comments about TikTok over the past week, the company’s general manager for US operations, Vanessa Pappas, told users on Saturday that the company was working to give them “the safest app” and that “We’re not planning on going anywhere”.

Mnuchin added that he had spoken with Chuck Schumer, the most senior Democrat in the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, about the issue and that they all agree that a sale or a block on the site would be necessary, using the authority of International Emergency Economic Powers Act, if needed.

The comments by Trump’s cabinet members follow a series of reports over a possible sale of TikTok by ByteDance, which operates a similar short-form video platform in China called Douyin. ByteDance is backed by domestic and international investors including SoftBank Group, Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic and Yunfeng Capital.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Friday night that he would issue an order for TikTok to be banned in the US.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that ByteDance had agreed to divest TikTok’s US operations and Microsoft was lined up to take over, citing two sources. The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported shortly afterwards that Microsoft has paused negotiations after Trump said he opposed the deal.

A source who was briefed on the discussions also told the South China Morning Post that ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming and investors were reluctant to sell to the US company.

Newsletter

Quote of the Day

Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.

Ayn Rand
Related Articles

Hong Kong News
×