President Trump is reportedly planning to order Chinese multinational ByteDance Ltd. to “divest its ownership” of the popular video sharing app TikTok in the United States as the federal government points to potential security concerns for users’ data.
Bloomberg reported on the potential forced sale of TikTok’s American operations after speaking with sources close to the matter. President Trump told reporters on Friday, “We are looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok. We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
The Trump administration said earlier in July that it is considering a ban of the app due to concerns that ByteDance may be handing over user information to China’s ruling Communist party.
TikTok, which has offices in Los Angeles, has attempted to publicly distance itself from its Chinese ownership by stating that not data is stored on Chinese servers. ByteDance even appointed Kevin Mayer, formerly of Walt Disney Company, to serve as its CEO overseeing operations in the United States and the rest of the world. A separate version of TikTok, Douyin, is used in mainland China.
News that the government may take action against TikTok resulted in a 2.7 percent surge of the value of competitor Snap Inc. on Friday.
Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino said on Twitter Friday that Microsoft was interested in buying TikTok’s American operations. According to Gasparino, the White House is “deeply concerned” about Microsoft’s interest.
ByteDance purchased the Shanghai-based app Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, creating a fast-growing social media phenomenon in which users make and share short-form videos.
The rise in TikTok’s popularity has led U.S. officials to worry about the safety of Americans’ data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which investigates overseas acquisitions of U.S. businesses, began a review of the purchase in the fall of 2019, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier in July that people should only download TikTok “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
President Trump has also expressed that banning TikTok would be a way of retaliating against China for its mishandling of the coronavirus.
This comes as tensions between the two countries continue to rise.
In July, China ordered the closure of America’s consulate in Chengdu after the U.S. ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston. Both countries accused the other of using the consulates for intelligence gathering purposes.
The U.S. State Department stated succinctly, “We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
An unnamed State Department official said,
By their very nature consulates are a base of operations for foreign governments to the United States, including their intelligence services and it’s understood that there will be some activity here by those services.
But because of their location within the United States and their status of sovereign territory of a foreign country, they can be exploited and the espionage and influence activities run out of a consulate can rise, ultimately to a level that threatens our national security.
“Washington has long used its diplomats in Chengdu to infiltrate Tibet and other regions in Southwest China, interfering in China’s domestic affairs,” wrote the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times.
American leaders have in recent days repeatedly warned of the threat China poses to the United States.
Speaking at the Nixon presidential library on July 23, Pompeo urged “every leader, of every nation” to join the United States to “induce change” in China by pushing back against aggression in Hong Kong and the South China Sea and by blocking Chinese technology that poses a “national security threat.”
“The free world must triumph over this new tyranny,” Pompeo said. “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party.” He went on to describe how China seeks to dominate the U.S. economically and the propaganda campaigns it has launched, including ones in America’s classrooms.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has declared that China is “engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary.”
Photo: Anatoliy Sizov/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.