Forced Sale of TikTok Very Unfair or Very Fair?

TikTok is a mobile app that allows users to share short videos and was founded by a Beijing-based startup called ByteDance.

Recently, the US have identified it as a national security threat because user information and other private content on TikTok might be sent to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); thus TikTok has been given 45 days to either find a buyer in the US or be shut out of the US market.  Some impartial observers may view this as unfair and even an affront to the tenets of free market but others may argue that the US government’s concerns are understandable given the CCP’s chequered track record.

What many impartial observers are not aware of is that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Youtube, Whatsapp, Instagram and many other international tech companies have been banned in China since they started decades ago. Moreover, many of the tech companies dealing in hardware (who moved production into China) were forced to sell parts of or all of their business to Chinese companies connected with the Communist Party; one such example is IBM who moved their production line of their laptop computer division to China. They had to do a joint venture (to be able to operate in China) and eventually the Chinese partner created so many problems for them in way of government regulations (through their government connections) that IBM had to sell all of their various businesses to Lenovo who handled the manufacturing of laptops for IBM. Now Lenovo is a brand that has gained all of the know-how from IBM for nothing and has become a player in personal computer market. So the forced technology transfer of US and other foreign tech companies has been going on in China for decades yet the US government did nothing for all these years.

Ensuing the Trump administration’s announcement to ban TikTok the impartial observer will also notice that no nations have spoken out against it; no European countries, no Asian countries (maybe with the exception of North Korea) and not even liberal nations like France.  This is understandable because the CCP has been engaged in unfair trade practices for so long against all countries that nobody has any sympathy for them when somebody is finally willing to reciprocate.

The CCP has offered many international tech companies the ability to operate in China as long as they open a backdoor on their platforms so that the CCP can retrieve any person’s data at any time – failure to comply meant that this tech company would be locked out of China. Some tech companies have kowtowed and released all of their users’ personal data to the CCP in exchange for a piece of the Chinese market but others have upheld their promise to their users and did not comply resulting in them being locked out of the China market.

Why should WeChat, Baidu, Weibo, Huawei, TikTok and all these Chinese brands be able to list on the US stock exchange and enjoy access to a global market when their counterparts like Whatsapp, Facebook, Google et al are completely shut out of the Chinese market? Therefore it is in my humblest opinion that the move to block TikTok in the US is a good start and I hope to see more Chinese tech platforms being blocked in the US and elsewhere.

And I believe in fair play so once Whatsapp, Facebook, Google, etc are able to operate in China then we can open our markets to them but until then all of the Chinese tech brands should be blocked globally. Fair is Fair.