China accuses the United States of intimidation by forced sale of the popular social network TikTok
Tiktok allows users to create and share videos of up to 60 seconds, often fun but also serious and even artistic.
China accused the United States of outright intimidation after Donald Trump ordered the sale before mid-September of the very popular social network TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
TikTok will close in the United States on September 15 unless Microsoft or someone else can buy it and reach an agreement, the US president announced, referring to the application that has nearly 1 billion users worldwide, mainly teenagers.
In a context of political and commercial tensions with China, Washington has for months accused the platform of being used by the Chinese intelligence services for surveillance purposes.
When asked about Donald Trump's announcement, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Wang Wenbin, accused the United States of regularly attacking foreign companies, abusing the notion of national security.
"This goes against the principles of the market economy and the principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination of the WTO," the spokesman said to the press. "This is bullying outright. China is firmly opposed," he added.
In a letter sent to ByteDance employees, founder Zhang Yiming suggested that the United States' intention was to ban the app rather than force a sale.
Zhang told staff to "prepare for more difficulties in the future," and assured that anti-China sentiment "has grown significantly in many countries."
While the company denies that its users' data is released to the Chinese government, the founder of ByteDance acknowledged in another internal letter on Monday that it was under pressure, noting that they work 24 hours a day "to get the best possible output."
"We have always been committed to ensuring the security of user data, as well as the neutrality and transparency of the platform," Zhang told employees in that internal statement, according to Chinese media.
However, he said, TikTok faces "increasing complexities across the geopolitical landscape and significant external pressure," and is studying "relocating headquarters to another large market outside the United States."
According to the British newspaper The Sun, ByteDance is considering moving the global operations of TikTok, today based in Los Angeles, to the United Kingdom.