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China will not accept US 'theft' of TikTok: State media

China Daily says pressure on ByteDance to sell US operations to Microsoft or risk closure amounts to a 'smash and grab'.

Adaugo Nwankpa
Adaugo Nwankpa

China will not accept the United States' "theft" of a Chinese technology company, state media said, adding that Beijing has ways to retaliate against Washington's pressure on Chinese-owned app, TikTok.

The Trump administration's pressuring of ByteDance, TikTok's parent company in China, to sell its US operations to Microsoft or risk closure amounts to a "smash and grab", the state-run China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial on Tuesday.

While Beijing will likely be "cautious" in imposing equivalent restrictions on US companies in China, it has "plenty of ways" to retaliate, the paper said.

Microsoft said on Monday it was in discussions with ByteDance to buy parts of TikTok after US President Donald Trump gave the companies 45 days to reach a deal.

Trump has threatened to ban TikTok in the US on national security grounds by September 15, whether or not a deal with Microsoft is reached.

TikTok has as many as one billion worldwide users, who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app.

Also on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the US of "bullying" over TikTok, accusing the Trump administration of trying to financially benefit from the deal.

The popular app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds, because it collects large amounts of personal data on users and is legally bound to share it with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.

Beijing slammed the move as "political manipulation".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend that Washington may take action "shortly" against TikTok and other Chinese companies believed to share data with the Chinese government.

ByteDance said in a statement on Monday it was still committed to being a global company despite "complex and unimaginable difficulties", including the "tense" international political environment.

In fact, words making rounds in the Chinese media seems indicate that China would be more open to a shut down of the company in US rather than allowing it to be  bought over by an American firm.

News

Adaugo Nwankpa

Statistical and Economics Analyst with a focus on social development.