TikTok-owner ByteDance greeted news of last night’s court ruling blocking a White House executive order with relief. But as we noted, while the ruling will at least delay a Trump Administration order to strip the app from app stores owned by Google and Apple, the court battle will likely continue, particualrly as the Nov. 12 deadline draws closer.
State-controlled Chinese media also celebrated the judge’s ruling, but they also pointed out that President Trump’s efforts to ‘steal’ TikTok weren’t over, and that a deal to transform TikTok into a US-controlled company would likely never pass muster with Beijing. In an editorial published by the English-language China Daily, Beijing castigated American hypocrisy over its claims to be a paragon of “fair competition”. Instead, “the move on TikTok has once again shown that [the US] is a ruthless predator on the success of others.”
“Like its waving of the banner of human rights, its standard bearing for fair competition is a sham. It seeks to portray itself as a good citizen in the community of nations, when it is anything but plans,” the editors raged. The US administration’s bid to make TikTok a prize of its piracy is no to be condoned, and it will undoubtedly incur proportional countermeasures from Beijing.”
As far as future talks are concerned, Beijing warned that the current deal is “dirt and totally unacceptable”.
Yet the ruling, which serves to appease the anger of the TikTok users in the US, is only temporary and the judge declined to block other US Commerce Department restrictions set to take effect on Nov 12 that ban technical and business arrangements that are necessary for the proper functioning of the app.
Nonetheless, the injunction would seem to have given more time for negotiations between ByteDance and Oracle and Wal-Mart on TikTok to come to an agreement on TikTok’s operations. The talks had come to a virtual standstill because the deal given the nod by the US administration would have been tantamount to transforming the proposed new entity TikTok Global into a US company.
Even many third parties have deemed this to be dirty and totally unacceptable.
That means the two sides have another one and a half months to find a deal that passes muster not only with the US administration but also the Chinese government, since it involves technologies that are on the list of those restricted for transfer.
The paper also likened the battle over TikTok to the Trump Administration’s tactics during the negotiations for the Phase 1 trade deal.
There is a sense of the déjà vu about the US administration’s moves, not only because it recalls the labor pains preceding the delivery of the phase one trade deal between the two countries, but also because of previous US administration’s attacks on foreign tech companies that threatened the US tech preeminence. Although the US administration labels TikTok as a threat to national security, it is the business success and technological advantage the app has achieved in the US that actually prompted it to smash the company and let the companies of its cronies grab whatever they can that might be of value.
That wasn’t all. Wang Wenbin, the powerful and widely quoted spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, accused the US of “abusing national power” and “bullying behavior” in its quest to wrest control of TikTok from ByteDance. A judge ruled on the injunction request last night, but details of the ruling remain sealed for now.
The deal struck earlier this month would leave Oracle as TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” handling all its back-end web hosting, leaving Oracle in control of all user data gathered by the app. Both sides have offered conflicting information on the ownership breakdown of the deal.
Instead of trying to bully China into giving up a lucrative asset, the US should “provide a fair, just, open, and non-discriminatory business environment for companies around the world investing and operating in the country,” Wang said. TikTok said Sunday that it would “maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government” on the plan, which has received preliminary approval from Trump.
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