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Pres. Trump says TikTok is a security threat

Posted August. 03, 2020 07:42,   

Updated August. 03, 2020 07:42


Chinese video-sharing social networking service TikTok, which has some 1 billion users all around the world, has become a new detonator in the conflicts between the U.S. and China. After U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Washington will ban the service in the nation for security reasons, Microsoft has paused the negotiations with ByteDance to purchase the U.S. operations of the social network.

Regarding the banning, President Trump said Friday (local time) that he has the authority to ban the service with an executive order or emergency economic powers. “I will sign the document tomorrow,” he said. But the service was not banned in the U.S. that day. The press projects that the Trump administration would issue additional regulations such as blocking the app from app stores in the U.S.

TikTok is an application that allows users to share 15-second video clips dubbed with music. The service is very popular among teenagers and those in their 20s. The global app service has some 3 million South Korean users. The Trump administration suspects that the service launched in September 2016 by IT entrepreneur Zhang Yimin received supports from the Chinese government to become today’s global tech company worth 100 billion dollars in just four years. It also suggested a possibility that TikTok provides information of 165 million users in the U.S. to the Chinese Communist Party.

Some analyze this as the U.S. government’s intention to regulate China’s software industry after putting sanctions on Huawei, the largest tech company in China, which the U.S. views as an intelligence agency of China.

Microsoft paused negotiations to acquire U.S. operations of TikTok after President Trump’s remark. ByteDance expressed its intention to hold shares after selling it to Microsoft at first but decided to sell all shares later due to the aftermath of U.S.-China conflicts. Experts say that the negotiation itself has been cancelled due to President Trump’s remark.

Jae-Dong Yu jarrett@donga.com