Competitive edge puts TikTok in a strong position to withstand pressure from incompetent, unconfident US
Published: Mar 02, 2023 11:11 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to advance a bill that would grant President Joe Biden the authority to ban Chinese-owned short-video platform TikTok. Some people said it would be the most far-reaching set of US restriction on any social media app.

For some US politicians, simply being Chinese-owned is enough to seal TikTok's fate in the US. What's more, the app is so popular among American users that has triggered a sense of crisis among American elites, who worry about the US losing its hegemony in the cyber-world. What is clear is that Washington does not want a Chinese-owned company that is far ahead of US and Western competitors in emerging internet-related sectors, which represent the future development of the global economy. An escalating US crackdown on TikTok is not to protect so-called data security, but a political suppression and economic bullying.

Despite being a tech power, the US lacks short-video platform that has the same competitive edge as TikTok. Now the US has been pushed to engage in an economic competition with Chinese internet companies, but the US appears very uneasy and unconfident. This may show why Washington has to politicize economic issues and abuse state power in unreasonably cracking down on businesses from China. The abuse of state power shows its economic incompetence in meeting the increasing competition from some Chinese leading internet companies.

The US politicians have become hysterical because of the progress Chinese internet companies have made, and to some extent, Chinese companies have to endure such hardships to continue their development in the global market.

On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance the bill that would authorize Biden to ban TikTok nationwide, but this is just the beginning. According to CNBC, the next steps will be determined by House Republican leadership, which controls what bills get a vote on the House floor. The report said "China policy is a top national security issue for the Republican-held House."

Amid US concerns about China's rapid economic development, the crackdown on TikTok will likely continue to upgrade. Therefore, the short-video platform needs to maintain its advantages and achieve sustainable development so that it can withstand pressure from the US, be capable and patient in negotiating with Washington. Can TikTok act this way? Many analysts following the short-video platform are confident in it and believe TikTok cannot be defeated by US crackdown.

TikTok is growing rapidly. According to media reports, the short-video app is available in over 150 countries and regions, has over one billion users, and has been downloaded more than three billion times. As long as TikTok can maintain its rapid development in the global market, its growing strength will enable TikTok to withstand pressure from Washington. TikTok should win over developing markets when encountering setbacks in the US and some Western countries. TikTok's new investment will also inject new vitality into those emerging economies, boosting digital innovation as well as promoting the healthy development of the digital trade.

The US tries to maintain its economic hegemony by choking off innovative and competitive companies from other countries, but its efforts to generalize the concept of national security and to abuse national power won't help the US economy, and instead will be an impediment to the healthy development of its digital economy.

At present, a key issue emerging economies face is how to enhance cooperation and create a favorable environment to foster quicker growth in the internet-related sectors. The digital economy offers emerging countries the chance to increase productivity and income, create sustainable growth and reduce inequalities. We need more excellent companies like TikTok to help foster the development of the digital economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.