Despite the fact that the government of former President Donald Trump described the TikTok application as a threat to national security, the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration decided to suspend the ban while it reviews the strategy it will adopt in the face of Chinese applications.
A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article revealed that the plan to force ByteDance to sell part of TikTok to a U.S. company was suspended indefinitely.
The president now plans to completely reviewthe position regarding the risks involved with Chinese apps. While that is happening, Trump’s measures will cease to apply.
According to the WSJ, talks between security officials and representatives of the Chinese company have continued and focused on “how to prevent” the Chinese government from accessing American users’ information through TikTok.
“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing U.S. data that addresses the full range of threats we face,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne.
“This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software operating in the United States. In the coming months, we look forward to reviewing specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face,” she added.
Another Biden administration official likely to help shape policy toward Chinese technology companies is Peter Harrell, who is now the National Security Council’s Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness.
Last summer, before taking office, Harrell applauded suggestions of more benign approaches to the problems presented by TikTok: “I totally agree that the best way for the U.S. to deal with TikTok is for TikTok to become a leader in transparency and data privacy, rather than banning it.”
TikTok reached a partnership agreement with Oracle and Walmart that would include the U.S. companies buying a stake in the app and providing secure technology. Under the terms of the deal, ByteDance would continue to own 80% of the business.
Discussions between the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and TikTok to resolve the situation have included the possibility of a trusted third party managing TikTok’s data, which would not require an outright sale.
However, potential buyers such as Oracle and Walmart could still be featured in a possible deal, but this will depend on how the Biden administration pursues the anti-TikTok initiatives that were implemented by the White House under the Trump administration.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s new national security advisor, and Kurt Campbell, his White House Coordinator for China policy, have publicly criticized Trump’s crackdown on Chinese tech companies such as Huawei as unilateral and uncoordinated with other Western nations.
Why some are worried about TikTok
In 2017 China passed the National Security Law, according to which any organization or citizen of the country was obliged to “support, assist and cooperate with state intelligence work”. Given that situation, the Trump Administration interpreted that Chinese companies must cooperate with the Chinese regime, and repeatedly accused TikTok of handing over personal data of American citizens.
At the end of 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense banned soldiers, marines and military personnel from using the app on their work phones because it was considered a cyber threat.
It should be remembered that, according to U.S. intelligence officials, China became the main threat to U.S. security.
“As Director of National Intelligence I have been entrusted with access to more intelligence than any member of the U.S. Government other than the president. I oversee the intelligence agencies and my office produces the president’s daily summary detailing the threats facing the country. If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China represents the greatest threat to the United States today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom around the world since World War II,” said John Ratcliffe, former Director of National Intelligence in his article published for The Wall Street Journal.
He added that “Beijing intends to dominate the United States and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent enterprises provide only a cloak of camouflage for the activities of the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
“China which is the number two power in the world, is the one that wants to make sure that the U.S. no longer exists to occupy that number one position and change the international system in its favor. China is advancing in all aspects, in politics, economics and in the military field,” said Global Security expert Joseph Humire in an exclusive interview for El American.