US 'symbolic' ban on TikTok shows country cannot resist latest technology: analyst
Published: Jul 22, 2020 02:41 AM

The logo of TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken February 21, 2019. Photo: VCG

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to prohibit federal employees from downloading the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok on government-issued devices, in another "political crackdown" on a Chinese firm following its intensified pressure on Huawei, Chinese analysts said.

Lawmakers voted 336-71 in favor of the amendment. The prohibition would include government devices used by members of Congress and congressional staff, according to media reports.

A TikTok spokesperson told the Global Times on Wednesday that “millions of US families use TikTok for entertainment and creative expression, and we realize this is not the purpose of federal equipment. A safe user experience and the protection of user privacy are our highest priorities.”

The ban also comes after Trump said his administration said it was considering banning TikTok in the US to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus. Without offering specifics about a potential move, Trump reportedly said, "It's a big business."

"It's a very limited and symbolic ban that only prevents government employees from using the app on government devices, and doesn't target the vast number of young consumers in the country," Liu Dingding, an industry insider told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The move again shows the US crackdown on China is designed to rally sentiment rather than a pragmatic approach, since only embracing the latest technology can the US achieve high-tech progress domestically, Liu noted.

TikTok is especially popular among young Americans. About 60 percent of TikTok's 26.5 million monthly active users in the US are between the ages of 16 and 24, according to the company's data in 2019.

TikTok is planning to add about 10,000 jobs in the US over the next three years, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

TikTok has stressed it has never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would it do so if asked. "TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US," the firm said previously.

Addressing a question about the TikTok ban, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on July 8 that the comments by certain politicians in the US are completely groundless and amount to malicious smearing.

Zhao urged US politicians rethink their prejudices against China, stop the crackdown on Chinese companies, and contribute to China-US trade and economic cooperation.