China State Media Blasts U.S. for ‘Extortion’ in TikTok Deal


Chinese state media blasted Oracle Corp.’s proposed deal with the hit video app TikTok, calling the agreement hammered out under pressure from the Trump administration a “dirty and underhanded trick.”

“What the United States has done to TikTok is almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company,” the state-run China Daily wrote in a Wednesday opinion piece.

That came after the Communist Party-backed Global Times tabloid called the TikTok deal an “unpalatable gambit” and accused the U.S. of resorting to “extortion” in its efforts to compel the app’s owner, ByteDance Ltd., to give up control of its U.S. operations.

“Any single company is weak on its own,” the Global Times said in an editorial late Tuesday. “But China as a big country will not accept blackmail from the U.S. nor will it hand over control of an outstanding high-tech Chinese company to extortionists.”

The tabloid’s Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin tweeted that Beijing likely wouldn’t approve the current agreement as it endangered China’s national security.

“Realizing that banning TikTok in the U.S. market would not go down well with the millions of young users in the country,” China Daily wrote, “the administration then sought to disguise its attack by ordering the developer ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S. company, resulting in the proposed deal between ByteDance and Oracle and Walmart.”

Doubts about the deal for the popular video app were fueled earlier this week after U.S. President Donald Trump said he may not approve it, and China’s government signaled hesitation through official media.

While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin remains confident that Trump will sign off on the transaction, U.S. national security officials are raising concerns that the data of American TikTok users would remain with a Chinese company, Bloomberg reported. U.S. officials are bracing for Trump to reject the deal if it becomes obvious that it doesn’t meet criteria the president himself laid out publicly.

A commentary carried by the overseas edition of People’s Daily on Wednesday called the deal with TikTok an “American trap.”

“Under the current agreement, this Chinese company will definitely lose its control and core technologies. It is extremely unfair and will bring severe damage to China’s national security, dignity and relevant company’s long-term development,” the commentary said.

China Daily’s editorial repeated previous claims by Beijing that the U.S. is using national security as a pretext to ban the app.

“National security has become the weapon of choice for Washington when it wants to curb the rise of any companies from foreign countries that are out-performing their U.S. peers,” it said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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