Chinese State Media: ‘Rogue’ U.S TikTok Ban Is ‘Barbaric’ Assault

This picture taken on May 29, 2020 shows French internet influencers who create content on the video platform Tik Tok posing at the @thefrenchhouseparis, a collab house (also known as content house) in Paris. (From L to R) Théo Bignonneau @theobignonneau, Alex Faure @yesmonga, Louise Ragot @louisergt, Rafael Caplan @raf_cpl, …
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese state media fumed over President Donald Trump’s statement Friday that his administration would ban TikTok, the Chinese-owned video microblogging service tagged as a potential security risk.

Chinese editorialists slammed the ban proposal as a “barbaric” act of economic and political warfare from the “rogue” U.S. government, suggesting Trump wants to shut the service down because it competes too effectively with American social media companies and makes it too easy for young people who hate the president to get organized.

Trump delayed the ban for 45 days on Sunday, giving Microsoft a chance to buy TikTok and ameliorate security concerns. China’s state-run Global Times remained apoplectic over the “hunting and looting of TikTok by the U.S. government in conjunction with U.S. high-tech companies” while dismissing American national security concerns:

The US claim that TikTok threatens its own national security is a purely hypothetical and unwarranted charge — just like the groundless accusation that Huawei gathers intelligence for the Chinese government. This is fundamentally different from China’s refusal to allow the original versions of Facebook and Twitter to enter China and require them to operate in accordance with Chinese laws.

This is the barbaric act of a rogue government, and yet another dark scene in Washington’s struggle for US supremacy. The idea of hegemony as national security enforced beyond the laws and commercial rules is the nature of the hunt against TikTok that we see today.

China has long banned outside companies from doing business within its physical or digital space, notably including social media giants like Twitter and Facebook, which the Global Times harangued for allegedly luring TikTok into the U.S. market so Washington could trap it, cook it, and serve it to Microsoft.

Chinese editorials addressed this argument by denying that China bans outside companies, asserting it merely sets fair but very high standards that no foreign operation happens to meet. 

This was the course taken by Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin in his own broadside, insisting China never banned any American websites or applications.

“China simply required them to abide by Chinese laws when operating in China. However, they rejected this and the two sides failed to reach an agreement. These U.S. websites and apps gave up the right to enter the Chinese market themselves,” he explained.

Hu assailed the U.S. for hypocrisy because it is supposedly failing to live up to its vastly higher standard of free-market competition by banning TikTok the way China long ago banned all those American social media platforms.

“The TikTok incident marks a serious inconsistency in traditional American values. If TikTok is eventually banned in the U.S., it can almost be seen as a disillusionment of the American spirit of freedom and democracy. In particular, it will profoundly affect the U.S. teenagers’ worldview,” he wrote, hitting on a talking point about Trump alienating American’s young TikTok fans that quickly became very popular with Chinese state media.

Hu concluded by praising Bytedance, the creators of TikTok, as national heroes and saluting them for exposing “the U.S. high tech giant’s ugly face of hunting a Chinese company and plundering its achievements.”

On Sunday, the Global Times hammered that protectionist angle by slamming the potential TikTok ban as another in a series of American “economic and political assaults” on innocent, unassuming China.

After leaning heavily on the talking point that young Americans love TikTok and will be furious at the Trump administration for interfering with its operations, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) paper turned to a handy Chinese academic who charged U.S. politicians with attempting to lock Chinese competitors out of their tech markets:

Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Renmin University of China, said that TikTok’s popularity among US users, particularly the younger generation, is causing alarm among US politicians about potential challenges it might pose to American tech giants.

“The US government wants to maintain the dominance of local tech companies, particularly on the content side, as they look at the popularity of TikTok as a sort of Chinese blow to the US information and technology industries,” Wang told the Global Times. 

The article concluded by asserting, without any sense of irony or self-awareness, that America’s TikTok users are exploring the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around the not-yet-implemented ban on the platform — exactly the method Chinese citizens, and foreign travelers, have long employed to bypass Beijing’s authoritarian speech codes and access forbidden social media platforms from the outside world.

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