Earlier this week U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to ban the Chinese-owned TikTok app in the country. However, Microsoft is working to purchase TikTok in the U.S. and several other territories.
Now Reuters reports that China’s ruling Communist Party has threatened action via an editorial in the China Daily newspaper, saying it may respond with actions over the “bullying” of Chinese tech companies.
The United States’ “bullying” of Chinese tech companies was a consequence of Washington’s zero-sum vision of “American first” and left China no choice but “submission or mortal combat in the tech realm,” the state-backed paper said in an editorial.
China had “plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab,” it added.
Many believe that Apple could be the likely target of any Chinese countermeasures. Apple journalist John Gruber notes that with Google and Facebook already banned in China, Apple would be the obvious tit-for-tat target.
Chinese government mouthpiece The Global Times reported in May that China might put Apple on an “unreliable entity list” along with other U.S. companies. The threat was mentioned as a part of countermeasures the country may take against U.S. moves to block Taiwan-based TSMC from selling chips to Huawei for its phones.
On Monday evening, President Trump stressed that TikTok must divest itself of its U.S. operations by September 15 and that the deal must include a substantial payment to the U.S. government. Otherwise, he would ban the app.
“I don’t mind whether it’s Microsoft or someone else, a big company, a secure company, a very American company buys it,” said Trump, according to Bloomberg.
“It’ll close down on 15 September unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal, an appropriate deal, so the Treasury of the United States gets a lot of money,” he added.
It remains to be seen as to how the federal government might have the authority to wet its beak with a cut of the action in any TikTok transaction. It is also not certain how the U.S. government would go about banning TikTok.