President Trump today announced that downloads of Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok won't be allowed in the U.S. after Sunday, September 20, following prolonged disputes over privacy and data concerns. As of Sunday, any moves to distribute or keep WeChat or TikTok on an app store in the U.S. will be barred. The Commerce Department has signaled its plans to fully ban TikTok by November 12th, unless the Chinese technology company can strike a deal with a U.S. company before then, in which case the ban could be lifted entirely.
The unprecedented move, which drew quick criticism from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and even from TikTok rival Instagram, comes after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations led to U.S. regulators provisionally agreeing to a deal between Tik Tok's Chinese parent company ByteDance, and Silicon Valley tech giant Oracle, after the companies agreed to set up a board of directors exclusively made up of U.S. citizens, and form a national security board chaired by an American data-security expert.
If this deal goes through, TikTok would still be a majority stakeholder in its company, and it would not share its algorithmic data with its U.S. partner. "As with any cross-border transaction, we will follow the applicable laws," ByteDance General Counsel Erich Andersen said in August. "Conceptually, I can tell you I don't like that," Trump said at a press conference Wednesday, referring to the prospect of ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, holding on to a majority share in the video sharing app. Read more about the tech issues that persist in the U.S.-China relationship in "The Other Global Power Shift", the latest article from Professor Joseph Nye, former Dean of the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.