OPINION / EDITORIAL
TikTok extortion deal is unpalatable gambit: Global Times editorial
Published: Sep 22, 2020 11:43 PM

TikTok. Photo: VCG



Unlike the global hunt for Huawei, the US has resorted to another form of extortion against TikTok. TikTok has rapidly risen in the US market with its unique algorithm advantages. It closely integrated with American users. This also allowed the US government to hold TikTok as a hostage. It further exposed the Trump administration to the opposition of young users - who could risk President Trump's reelection. 

For Washington, reorganizing TikTok and making it completely "de-Sinicized" into a new company that is entirely controlled by US companies is the most cost-effective approach. It not only shows the decisiveness of the Trump administration, but also caters to US companies. Meanwhile, TikTok's 100 million users in the US will not be affected. Thus the whole country will be happy. The entire event will finally become a great achievement for the Trump administration.

More importantly, this hands-off approach to branding the internet's most cutting-edge video app as a "US company" alleviates long-term anxieties of US tech firms. Regardless of where high-tech companies emerged (whether in China or any other country), the US can follow TikTok's model of stalking them and subjugating them to US ownership and control. In this case, US technological hegemony will be passed down from generation to generation.

For these goals, Washington has mobilized the entire nation to launch a combination of suppressive tactics against TikTok and its parent company ByteDance. First, US government officials and congressional representatives have made many groundless accusations that TikTok is transferring US user data to the Chinese government. Following this, the Trump administration sought to ban the popular app in the country, with the US president even personally expressing such determination. Then Microsoft showed up. It took the extreme choice: TikTok would be either banned or sold to a US company.

TikTok was being forced into desperation. And suddenly there seemed to be a turn for the better. Oracle could help run TikTok's US operations as a trusted technology partner. This means TikTok did not need to be fully sold to a US company. It seems that TikTok needs only to give up a part of its equity, reorganize board members, approve Oracle's access to the source code, and move its global business outside of China into the reorganized company. Compared with previous dilemmas, this seems to be a much better course of action.

Survival after desperation might be a very alluring time for all parties involved. Nonetheless, Trump has made it clear that he wants Oracle and Walmart's total control of TikTok. He wants the new company to "have nothing to do with China."

It is plain to all that Washington's methods involve maximum pressure. These also entail blackmailing and trying to tempt TikTok with promises of survival. The US is launching joint operations by the federal government, the Congress, and US-owned companies. The US media is also happy to see such dirty hunt. It helps hype up the situation with the election year feeding frenzy. TikTok and its parent company ByteDance are unable to deal with the US institutional plunder on their own.

As a result, the Chinese government stepped in just in time. It first added the algorithm to the technology export control list on August 28. This dealt a blow to the arrogance of the US side. Then when the US said that it "agrees in concept" to ByteDance's agreement with Oracle and Walmart, the Chinese government tried to press ahead with the deal. Following suit, the Chinese government sent a clear signal of its opposition to the agreement, redefining the direction of this high-tech battle.

Any single company is weak on its own. But China as a big country will not accept blackmail from the US. Nor will it hand over control of an outstanding high-tech Chinese company to extortionists. The success of Huawei and ByteDance proves that China's overall business environment has the ability to incubate companies with its own core technology and global competitiveness. We cannot let these Chinese companies be arbitrarily slaughtered by the US. We should not let Washington control the lifeline of China's technological development in the future. We hope to maintain fair and mutually beneficial cooperation with the US. But we are ready to fight resolutely against the bullying and gangster-like logic of the US as well. We have long believed in the philosophy that when we properly handle each other's core and major interests, China-US relations will grow smoothly. Otherwise, they will be in trouble. We hope that it is no longer a luxury to see the great powers meet each other half way in the 21st century.


blog comments powered by Disqus