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China warns US of consequences over potential TikTok ban

Beijing, Aug 4 (efe-epa).- The Chinese government on Tuesday labeled the United States crackdown on social media app TikTok as “political manipulation” and warned Washington not to open “Pandora’s box” or face consequences.

In a press conference, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US habitually used its power to attack foreign companies, according to Chinese state media.

The rebuttal comes after US president Donald Trump said Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the vastly popular TikTok, had until 15 September to sell the app to an American company or face a ban in the country over fears that user data was being shared with China’s government.

Microsoft was reportedly in talks to buy the app. Trump has said the US Treasury should take a “substantial portion” of any agreement.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang said: “The US must not open Pandora’s box, otherwise it will suffer the consequences.”

TikTok has some 80 million users in the US and is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It has a particularly strong market among adolescents and young adults, and is also used by celebrities.

Trump’s administration and several high-level Democratic Party figures have accused the app of sharing information with Beijing.

The Chinese government and the app’s parent company have denied this.

Founder and CEO of ByteDance Zhang Timing on Tuesday penned a letter to his employees, saying Washington’s pressure to sell the company in order to remain in the US market was “unreasonable.”

He said the US’ intention was not to force the sale to an American company but rather ban the app.

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