Chinese State Media Vows Tech ‘Mortal Combat’ in Response to TikTok Buyout Talks

August 4, 2020 Updated: August 4, 2020

Chinese state media has threatened retaliation after the Trump administration compelled short-video app TikTok to find an American buyer, citing national security concerns about the popular platform’s Chinese ownership.

In an editorial published on Aug. 4, state-run outlet China Daily said the Chinese regime would not accept the “theft” of a Chinese technology company, adding that it had “plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab.”

The United States’ actions left China no choice, with either “submission or mortal combat in the tech realm,” the commentary said.

U.S. tech giant Microsoft confirmed that it was in talks with TikTok’s owner, the Beijing-based ByteDance, to buy parts of the app’s overseas operations. President Donald Trump set a deadline of Sept. 15 for parties to strike a deal, or the app will be banned.

U.S. officials have warned that the app poses national security risks because it could allow Beijing access to vast amounts of American personal data. Chinese laws compel companies to cooperate with security agencies when requested. The company has denied these allegations.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, at a regular briefing on Tuesday, said Beijing “firmly opposed” Washington’s move, accusing the administration of “abusing its power” and using national security as a pretext for cracking down on non-U.S. companies.

The Chinese regime has dialed up its rhetoric against the United States since the deterioration of relations between the two countries. State media has recently promoted the idea of war, while central authorities directed television stations to run war movies to foment nationalist sentiment. They came as the Trump administration sharply escalated actions against Beijing in response to the regime’s coverup of the pandemic, tightening grip over Hong Kong, theft of American technology, and military aggression in the South China Sea.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that the United States will take action in the coming days regarding TikTok and other Chinese apps, but gave no other details.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend said: “These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more … are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus.”

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