TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Trump on Tuesday (July 7) stated that he is considering banning the Chinese-owned app TikTok in the U.S.
During an interview with Fox News on Monday (July 6), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is considering banning Chinese social media apps such as TikTok because the private information of users could be "in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party." The next day, in an interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, Trump confirmed Pompeo's remarks by saying, "It's something we're looking at, yes."
Trump indicated that the move would be in retaliation for China's poor initial handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19): "Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful." He told Van Susteren that a ban on TikTok would be among "one of many" measures he is weighing as retribution against China for the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected at least 3,048,072 Americans and killed 133,322 across the U.S.
In response to Trump's threat, a spokesperson for ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, emphasized that the U.S. branch is led by an American, Kevin Mayer, who is a former Disney executive. The company claims that it has hundreds of employees in the U.S. and denies charges that it provides private user data to the Chinese government, purporting that its data centers are all in the U.S.
On Tuesday, TikTok announced that it would be removing its app from the Hong Kong market “in light of recent events,” a gesture that appeared to be an attempt to distance itself from China but that Bloomberg suggested could also benefit the Chinese Communist Party by eliminating a forum for Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists.
After a deadly border clash with China, India on June 29 banned TikTok along with 58 other Chinese apps. In a press release issued on Monday, India's Ministry of Information Technology wrote that the decision to ban the apps was made after it was discovered that they are engaged in activities "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order," reported the Hindustan Times.
According to leaked documents obtained by the Guardian in 2019, TikTok moderators are instructed to censor videos that mention terms Beijing finds objectionable, such as "Tiananmen Square," "Tibetan independence," or the banned religious group "Falun Gong."