Donald Trump issued an executive order that gives the social media app TikTok 45 days to be sold by its parent company, ByteDance. If not, Trump will direct his administration to take action to ban it from the U.S. Another executive order covered the messaging app WeChat, which is also owned by a Chinese company.
Trump has been threatening the action for weeks after U.S. intelligence agencies raised questions about the app’s data security. ByteDance is located in Communist China and even though the servers for the app have been moved to the U.S., that wasn’t enough for Trump, who wants the app sold to U.S. stakeholders.
TikTok is complaining about Trump’s decision, but it appears to be well-grounded in the law.
The order invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act. The White House making such a move is unusual and will likely face a legal challenge.
Trump could force ByteDance to divest from TikTok through the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), but the president has seemingly skipped over that process.
TikTok said Friday that the order sets a “dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets.”
TikTok was trying to get Microsoft to buy its U.S. and Canadian operations, but the U.S. tech giant wanted to wait to see what Trump would do. That deal is almost certainly completely dead now.
Naturally, the Chinese are outraged.
On Wednesday, China accused the United States of using its Clean Network campaign to hinder Chinese companies under the pretext of national security.
“The U.S. practice has no factual basis at all and is sheer malicious slander and political manipulation to maintain its high-tech monopoly,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a regular press briefing. “This is a typical hegemonic behavior that runs against market principles and international trade rules and severely threatens the security of global industrial and supply chains.”
China has stolen more data, more secrets, and more technology than any other country. They have spied, eavesdropped, and hacked the U.S. government, our military, our best companies. and our citizens. They flout U.S. and international law regularly. They are not a “competitor,” they are an enemy. And it’s high time we started treating them like one.