Trump Gets KPOP’d And Tic Toc’d As Teens Mobilized To Derail Trump’s Tulsa Rally
Trump Canceled An Outdoor Speech At His Rally In Tulsa After Lower-Than-Expected Attendance. Trump Gets KPOP’d And Tic Toc’d As Teens Mobilized To Derail Trump’s Tulsa Rally
Trump Canceled An Outdoor Speech At His Rally In Tulsa After Lower-Than-Expected Attendance.
TikTok Users, K-Pop Fans Take Credit For Inflating Expectations To Trump Tulsa Rally
Shortly before President Donald Trump appeared on stage at his much-anticipated rally in Tulsa, it was plainly evident that the campaign had completely oversold the event. Days ahead of the event, Brad Parscale, the chairman of the president’s reelection campaign, and even Trump himself had taken to Twitter to boast about the number of ticket requests they had received for the Saturday night rally.
“Almost One Million people,” boasted Trump on Twitter as he publicly said his campaign expected the 19,000-capacity arena to be packed. Expectations were so high that Trump planned to speak to an overflow crowd outside. But the outside portion ended up being canceled as there were lots of empty seats inside. According to the Tulsa Fire Department even saying that the arena was half-empty was an overstatement as turnout at the rally was under 6,200 people.
TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed they were at least partly responsible for creating the outsized expectations for the rally. They claimed to have registered for as many as hundreds of thousands of tickets as a prank after Trump’s campaign called for supporters to register for tickets.
It seems K-pop fan accounts, which have been starring in unusually high-profile political actions lately, were the first to pick up the baton, reports the New York Times. The highly active accounts dedicated to honoring Korean pop called on followers to register for the rally and not show up. That call then spread on TikTok, where many made videos that quickly went viral instructing people how to go about requesting tickets.
Although many are referring to “TikTok teens” the truth is that at least some of the people who were calling to carry out what was effectively a trolling campaign were decidedly older than teenagers. One of them, for example, was a 51-year-old grandmother who posted a video calling on people to register for the event and not show up. Mary Jo Laupp had around 1,000 followers then, but the video quickly blew up, reports CNN.
Many others posted similar posts, often deleting them after a day or two to try to prevent the videos from spreading to other corners of the internet. Still, the trend spread to other social networks, including Twitter and Instagram, although to a much smaller degree.
Many were quick to praise the online activists for their actions after the low attendance became the main story out of Trump’s first rally since March. “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted in response to Parscale blaming protesters and “apocalyptic media coverage” for the low turnout. “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too,” Ocasio-Cortez added in a subsequent tweet.
The move to request lots of tickets for Trump’s rally marks the latest example of how internet-savvy K-Pop fans are taking a high-profile involvement in American politics recently. Earlier this month, for example, they answered a call from Trump’s campaign for birthday greetings for the president with a bunch of prank messages. K-pop accounts have also taken part in the Black Lives Matter protests by drowning out opponents of the movement while also flooding police apps with videos of Korean pop.
The Trump campaign dismissed the importance of any fake ticket request. “Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. “Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number. Every rally is general admission and entry is first-come-first served. But we thank them for their contact information.” And it is true that while the K-Pop fans and TikTok users may have helped contribute to the huge expectations for the event but the prank ticket requests don’t actually explain why the president’s much-anticipated rally was not full in the first place.
Trump’s Tulsa Rally Adds To Week Of Warnings For Campaign
Donald Trump’s first campaign rally since coronavirus swept the U.S. will be remembered more for what the president would rather forget, as his attempt to reset his re-election bid drew a disappointing crowd in a solidly Republican state.
The event in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday attracted far fewer supporters than Trump and his advisers had promised. And it was overshadowed by continuing criticism of his response to the pandemic and to nationwide protests against police brutality.
The ouster of the top federal prosecutor in New York emerged as a fresh controversy just hours before the president touched down in the city.
Trump and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had boasted that a million people requested tickets online for the Tulsa rally, and Trump flatly promised there wouldn’t be an empty seat. He had planned to speak to crowds both outdoors and inside, but scrapped the outdoor remarks after a scant showing. Inside Tulsa’s BOK Center, upper-level seating was mostly empty.
The crowd inside the BOK Center Saturday night was just under 6,200 people, a spokesman for the city’s fire department said, or about a third of capacity. Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications, said on Twitter that “12,000 people made it past protesters” and through metal detectors into the arena. At least one attendee reported that perimeter gates at the stadium were closed some time before Trump was scheduled to speak.
The campaign blamed protesters, claiming they had blocked Trump supporters from passing through security checkpoints.
That could not be verified, and the Tulsa police department said in a tweet that protesters had been “overwhelmingly” peaceful.
The poor showing added to indications that Trump’s re-election is far from certain and that his campaign risks derailment.
He has fallen behind his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, in national polls and surveys of key battleground states. In May, Biden’s campaign outraised Trump’s for the first time, while Trump’s campaign spent twice as much money.
Trump declared Saturday that he would win re-election, despite recent polls, and alluded to nationwide protests against police violence against people of color.
“I stand before you today to declare that the silent majority is stronger than ever before,” Trump said. “We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, and we are the party of law and order.”On Saturday, the president said nothing about the size of the crowd.
He painted Biden as a befuddled puppet of the Democratic Party’s leftmost flank.
“Does anybody honestly think he controls these radical maniacs?” Trump said, at one point asking the crowd: “Do you know what he says to his wife, when he’s not confusing her with his sister?”
Trump vs. Virus
In the hours before his arrival, Trump courted new controversy as Geoffrey S. Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in New York, resigned following a remarkable stand-off with Attorney General William Barr, who said the president had fired him. But Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Tulsa that Barr was responsible for Berman’s removal, saying “I’m not involved.”
The president has struggled to maintain enthusiasm for his campaign as coronavirus ravaged the country and cities nationwide were convulsed by protests following the death of George Floyd last month at the hands of Minneapolis police. Over the course of a week, a damaging new book by Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, and the ousting of Berman on Saturday added to the president’s travails.
Trump’s large, raucous rallies were the lifeblood of his 2016 campaign, and he had begun to increase their frequency late last year as he prepared for re-election. But the coronavirus outbreak ruined his best argument for another term — the strength of the U.S. economy, now in recession — and sidetracked his campaign’s favorite tactic, making rallies impossible since March.
Saturday’s rally marked a return to script for a president who has long thrived on the crowds and sharp partisanship of the events. It was also meant to be a declaration of victory over the virus — the administration has touted Oklahoma as a reopening success story, although cases of the disease spiked in the state ahead of the rally.
Local health officials had recommended delaying the event, but the campaign pressed ahead. Some campaign advance staff in Oklahoma tested positive for the virus, news that emerged shortly before Trump departed the White House.
Masks were distributed to attendees as they entered the arena, but few people actually were seen wearing them.
Trump dedicated portions of his speech to the virus, at one point calling it the “Kung Flu,” one of a handful of racially insensitive comments. He warned that conceding to demands by police brutality protesters to abolish law enforcement would leave the wife of a traveling salesman vulnerable to “a very tough hombre.” And he said that a Democratic congresswoman who is a Somali refugee, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, sought to “make the government of our country just like the country from where she came.”
He also sought to play down the risks of the pandemic. “Testing is a double-edged sword,” he said. “When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people. So I said to my people, slow the testing down.”
A White House official, who asked not to be identified, later said the president was joking when he spoke about slowing down testing.
Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, said Sunday on CNN that the president was being “tongue in cheek” in the comment about testing, describing it as “a lighthearted moment,” while acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the comment reflected “frustration” about how administration efforts are being portrayed.
“We’ve tested over 25 million Americans. We’ve tested more than any other country in this world. Instead, the press and others, all they want to focus on is an increasing case count. And we know that that’s going to occur when you test individuals more and more and more,” Wolf said on CBS.
Ramps And Water
His speech, which ran roughly one hour and 44 minutes, saw him touch on recent controversies, including speculation about his health after his unsteady walk down a ramp at West Point’s commencement ceremony last weekend, and online jokes about why he has appeared to struggle to drink glasses of water without using both hands.
On Saturday, after he was brought a glass of water at the rally lectern, Trump flamboyantly drank it with one hand and then flung it aside. The crowd cheered.
Outside the arena, tensions escalated between protesters and Trump supporters ahead of the rally. Protesters clustered near the entrance to the event, where Oklahoma National Guard troops stood in a line.
Some of the demonstrators chanted “hands up don’t shoot,” a phrase common at nationwide protests against police brutality over the past month. Trump supporters entering the rally chanted “go Trump.”
“You are warriors, thank you, we had some very bad people outside, we had some very bad people outside, they were doing some bad things,” Trump told his audience.
After Trump’s remarks, police confronted protesters and briefly fired unidentified projectiles that produced eye irritants before backing off.
Trump’s campaign boasted after the rally that despite the poor in-person attendance, more than four million people had watched the event online. “These numbers represent unmatched enthusiasm behind the President’s re-election and a massive audience that Joe Biden can only dream of,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said.
But some Biden campaign officials gloated over the scene in the arena.“The ol’ Trump 5D chess at work,” digital director Rob Flaherty tweeted in response to a picture of empty seats above the stage as Vice President Mike Pence spoke.
On his way from the arena back to Air Force One — the plane’s successor factored into the speech, as Trump recalled haggling with an unnamed Boeing Co. executive he called a “dumb son of a bitch” — Trump issued another defiant tweet.
“THE SILENT MAJORITY IS STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE!” he wrote.
Trump Campaign Reassigns Chief Operating Officer After Tulsa Rally
Jeff DeWit, an Arizona businessman and longtime Trump ally, will succeed Michael Glassner, who will oversee legal issues.
President Trump’s campaign is making a senior leadership change, moving Michael Glassner from chief operating officer into a role overseeing legal issues.
Jeff DeWit, an Arizona businessman and longtime Trump ally, will take over as chief operating officer, a role which has included oversight of campaign rally operations. The move follows Mr. Trump’s recent rally in Tulsa, which featured a far smaller crowd than the campaign had promoted, frustrating the president.
Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement that the changes, first reported by Axios, were “not a reaction to Tulsa.”
“Michael Glassner is moving into the long-term role of navigating the many legal courses we face, including suits against major media outlets, some of which will likely extend beyond the end of the campaign,” Mr. Murtaugh said. “He is one of the founding members of Team Trump and his dedication to the success of the President is unmatched.”
The president’s campaign is faced with how to best hold his signature rallies moving forward, given concerns about the coronavirus. Mr. Trump was eager to return to massive crowds after months off the campaign trail due to the pandemic, but in Oklahoma he drew about 6,200 people to a 19,000 person venue.
The smaller than expected crowds led to finger pointing, including some private criticism of campaign manager Brad Parscale, who had said that 1 million people requested tickets and that he hoped to have 100,000 supporters at the rally inside and outside.
Trump Warns Of Banning User Access To TikTok
TikTok Maker Seeks To Strike Balance As China, U.S. Step Up Geopolitical Pressure
The social-media sensation will pull its app out of Hong Kong amid concerns of the new national-security law; U.S. suggests limiting user access
The Chinese maker of TikTok, the popular short-video platform, said it would pull its app out of Hong Kong amid concerns about a new national-security law, its second market exit in as many weeks, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted the Trump administration was considering limiting U.S. users’ access to the app.
Tuesday’s developments underscored the geopolitical challenges facing the first global social-media sensation to emerge from China. Last week, India—one of TikTok’s largest markets by users, accounting for roughly a third of its downloads—banned the app as part of an escalating border dispute between Beijing and New Delhi.
TikTok, which won over millions with its catchy dancing and lip-sync videos, has faced intense scrutiny in the U.S. as it grows around the world, and as U.S.-China relations hit the skids. In Washington, some lawmakers have called for an outright ban, saying data in the smartphone app would be available to Beijing.
In the U.S., TikTok was second in downloads to Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s namesake video-chat app in the first half of 2020, according to market-research firm Sensor Tower, which said TikTok has racked up 184.7 million U.S. downloads to date across the App Store and Google Play. The U.S. was TikTok’s third-largest market in new users in the first half of the year, after India and Brazil.
On Monday, when asked during a Fox News interview if the U.S. should ban Chinese social-media apps including TikTok, Mr. Pompeo said the government was looking at it. The Trump administration has already worked to keep network-equipment makers Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. out of its mobile infrastructure, he added.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, we can assure you the United States will get this one right,” Mr. Pompeo said. He didn’t offer details about how the U.S. would restrict access or indicate how seriously the White House is considering the move.
A spokesman for TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based Bytedance Ltd., said it has an American CEO and employs hundreds in the U.S. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,” he said. Previously, TikTok has said it never provided user data to the Chinese government, and wouldn’t do so if asked. A Bytedance spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Pompeo’s remarks and how the company is responding.
The pressures TikTok faces reflect the continued fracturing of the internet along geopolitical lines amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China. The Chinese government’s decision to wall off the country’s internet once helped its tech companies grow by shielding them from foreign competition, but the idea of erecting national boundaries in cyberspace now threatens the future of the first Chinese internet company to enjoy mainstream global appeal.
In Hong Kong, TikTok’s decision to pull back in response to the new national-security law came alongside similar moves by its U.S. social-media peers including Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
Those U.S. tech giants—which operate popular social-media services including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube and LinkedIn—on Monday said they would suspend compliance with government requests for user data in Hong Kong, after Beijing fast-tracked national-security legislation that gives law-enforcement officials in Hong Kong similar powers to those enjoyed by mainland Chinese authorities.
On Tuesday, Zoom, another U.S. tech-industry darling that has come under scrutiny in Washington for its China ties, said it too would pause its cooperation with Hong Kong authorities’ requests for user data.
The San Jose, Calif.-based company added Wednesday that traffic from free accounts, including those of Hong Kong users, doesn’t pass through data centers in Hong Kong. And paid customers can choose where to route their data, said a company spokeswoman.
Zoom drew criticism in June for suspending the accounts of U.S.- and Hong Kong-based activists commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre at the request of Beijing.
“The golden age for these companies to ignore political implications of their operations is gone,” said Julien Chaisse, law professor at the City University of Hong Kong, referring to the Silicon Valley giants as well as TikTok. “They will have to choose where they go and how much they compromise themselves.”
But for TikTok, its move to end its services for Hong Kong users and remove its app from Apple Inc.’s App Store and Alphabet’s Google Play store went beyond that of its peers. That reflects in part the eagerness of TikTok’s owners to try to strike a balance between its Chinese home base and its global ambitions—particularly in the U.S.
The Bytedance spokesman declined to comment on why TikTok took a broader approach than peers.
TikTok has spent much of the past year trying to distance itself from its Chinese roots. It has considered moving its headquarters out of China and in May hired Kevin Mayer, an American who spent most of his career at Walt Disney Co., to be its new CEO. This year, the company also stopped using Chinese moderators to monitor overseas content.
Ensuring a smooth global expansion for TikTok is key for Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups and whose initial public offering is highly anticipated. Shares of Bytedance recently traded on the secondary market at a valuation that implies a market capitalization of $150 billion for the company, people familiar with the transaction said.
Like other Chinese tech companies with increasingly global ambitions, most notably Huawei, TikTok has found its Chinese roots an increasingly heavy burden to bear as Beijing adopts a more confrontational approach on the global stage, and as President Trump steps up his rhetoric against Beijing.
The fast-moving geopolitical developments are forcing TikTok to respond quickly. After last week’s ban by Indian authorities, Mr. Mayer wrote a letter to Indian authorities emphasizing the company’s local hiring and investments in the country. Mr. Mayer also told Indian officials the app hasn’t and wouldn’t share Indian user data with the Chinese government.
Beijing’s move to impose the new national-security law on Hong Kong has added to the headaches for TikTok. Many of the senior Western government officials who condemned the move in Hong Kong are some of the same ones who are expressing alarm over TikTok’s rapid spread around the world.
Bitfinex Lists Dogecoin After TikTok Fad Sends DOGE Price Over $0.005
Dogecoin sees fresh gains before correcting to $0.004 as Bitfinex appears to capitalize on TikTok excitement.
Major cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is listing Dogecoin (DOGE) as excitement around the meme-based altcoin keeps mounting.
In a Twitter announcement on July 10, Bitfinex said that deposits were already available and that it would begin supporting Dogecoin at 8:30 am UTC the same day.
Dogecoin: Bitfinex “Releases The Gud Boi”
The move caps a bizarre week for Dogecoin, which saw its value shoot up after a spontaneous publicity campaign involving users of social media platform TikTok.
Perhaps directly due to the attention that the campaign generated, Bitfinex stepped into the trading arena — Google data suggests that many new consumers are attempting to purchase DOGE as a result.
The move may have been responsible for more noticeable price gains. After TikTok, which led DOGE/USD to almost two-year highs, Thursday saw a fresh high of $0.0052 for the pair.
Since then, a reversal has taken place, with DOGE nonetheless managing to bounce off newfound support at $0.004.
For Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino, There Was Little More To Add. He Tweeted:
“Such wow! MegaDOGE on @bitfinex ! Release the gud boi!!!!!!!!!”
Shibes Get Their Mainstream Media Moment
Meanwhile, Dogecoin even found its way into mainstream media this week, with Bloomberg noting the Google Trends numbers in a dedicated article.
“The whole currency was started as a joke to make fun of the financial system, which is bizarre to think about,” the publication quoted Justin Litchfield, CTO of hedge fund ProChain Capital, as saying on Wednesday.
According to Google Trends, the phrase “how to buy Dogecoin” significantly outperformed “how to buy Bitcoin” over the past seven days.
Microsoft In Talks To Acquire TikTok, As U.S. Considers Banning The App
Deal would address American officials’ data-gathering concerns by removing video-sharing app from control of Chinese company.
Microsoft Corp. is in talks to acquire the U.S. operations of TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, according to people familiar with the matter, as President Trump said on Friday that he was considering taking steps that would effectively ban the app from the U.S.
A sale to Microsoft, likely for billions of dollars, would be a win for both TikTok and Bytedance, where executives had feared that the U.S. government would force device makers to take TikTok out of their app stores, according to another person familiar with the matter.
News of the talks, earlier reported by Fox Business, came as the U.S. was concluding a security review that was expected to recommend a divestiture of TikTok by its Chinese owner, Beijing-based Bytedance Ltd.
“We’re looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave on a trip to Florida. “We may be doing some other things, there are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening. So we’ll see what happens. We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
Microsoft didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
For the Trump administration, an acquisition of TikTok would also eliminate potential legal challenges—and public backlash—should the wildly popular app be forced off of millions of American smartphones.
U.S. officials have expressed concerns that TikTok could pass on the data it collects from Americans streaming videos to China’s authoritarian government. TikTok has said it would never do so.
In a statement posted online this week, TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, who was hired away from Walt Disney Co. earlier this year, said the company was committed to transparency.
“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy,” he said.
A person familiar with the matter said earlier that U.S. officials had ordered Bytedance to divest its ownership.
The app known for its catchy dancing and lip-syncing videos has soared in popularity this year amid the pandemic. About 315 million users downloaded TikTok in the first quarter of the year, the most downloads ever for an app in a single quarter, according to research firm Sensor Tower, bringing its total to more than 2.2 billion world-wide.
In addition to concerns that TikTok could collect data on Americans, U.S. officials have been concerned that the app could be used to spread Chinese propaganda and that the platform’s moderators could be censoring content to appease Beijing.
The review of TikTok has centered around ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of a similar video-sharing platform called Musical.ly, a Shanghai-based platform that had built a strong U.S. user base. After the acquisition, Musical.ly’s platform was discontinued, and users who wanted to share videos could continue to do so on TikTok’s platform.
ByteDance, whose secondary shares have valued the firm at $150 billion in recent weeks, counts big-name U.S. investors such as Coatue Management and Sequoia Capital among its backers.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. began its probe into TikTok last year, amid concerns from members of Congress and others about the data it might be collecting.
At the time, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called the investigation “welcome news.”
“This new investigation is validation of our concern that apps like TikTok—that store massive amounts of personal data accessible to foreign governments—may pose serious risks to millions of Americans and deserve greater scrutiny,” Mr. Schumer said.
The investigation into TikTok is taking place as the national security review panel has increasingly focused on deals that put U.S. citizens and their privacy at risk, a focus that Congress ordered in a 2018 law.
Under the new law, regulators will investigate deals involving foreign money if that business has access to data on more than one million people, including certain genetic and biometric data, financial data and health data. The rules also apply to investments in U.S. businesses that track users’ locations or target U.S. military or national security personnel.
The Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, is a panel of federal agencies that reviews deals involving foreign money to ensure they don’t put the country’s national security at risk. The panel has the power to review deals that involve U.S. companies, such as the 2017 acquisition.
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump ordered another Chinese company to sell its stake in a Maryland property management software firm, a platform that hotels and casinos use to enable guests to check into rooms using smartphones. That order marked the sixth time a U.S. president has either blocked a deal or ordered a corporate selloff since Congress authorized the power to intervene in 1988.
At a congressional hearing on Big Tech’s market power this week, Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that he intends to address threats from China—a not-so-veiled reference to TikTok’s rise.
Mr. Mayer, TikTok’s CEO, fired back in a blog post Wednesday morning, disparaging Facebook’s “copycat” efforts to match TikTok and saying many attacks on the company are “disguised as patriotism.”
TikTok Standoff Raises Fear Of Retaliation Against U.S. App Developers
Digital companies making inroads in China could face heat should Beijing respond in kind to U.S. tactics.
The Trump administration’s push for a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations has poured fuel on tensions between Washington and Beijing, creating more uncertainty for U.S. app developers trying to break into China’s vast but largely closed digital market.
“I was deeply, gravely concerned that if TikTok were banned, then you’d see a response from China that would punish my members in some kind of sweeping gesture,” said Morgan Reed, president of ACT | The App Association, a trade group that represents roughly 5,000 app developers and information-technology firms.
Microsoft Corp. ’s public pursuit of the popular video-sharing app could calm nerves in both countries should a deal go through, digital trade experts and industry lobbyists say. But some fear Chinese retaliation against U.S. firms should negotiations fall apart.
Mr. Reed, whose trade group is sponsored by large corporations including Apple Inc. and Microsoft, said some U.S. developers have made inroads in the Chinese market with apolitical offerings such as gaming and English-language education. Those businesses could face heat should Beijing respond in kind to what critics have decried as Mr. Trump’s strong-arm tactics, Mr. Reed added.
“They can not only deplatform our apps, but they can also shut off the apps that already exist,” he said.
Representatives for another lobbying group for developers, The App Coalition, declined to comment.
Mr. Trump has ratcheted up pressure on China over its early handling of the coronavirus, and last month threw cold water on the possibility of a new trade deal with the country. The administration has also pushed allies such as the U.K. to shun equipment for 5G networks made by the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co.
Retaliation by Beijing for a forced sale of TikTok, China’s first international social media hit, “would be within character,” said Nigel Cory, associate director of trade policy at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a Washington think tank.
Beijing already has created the so-called Great Firewall to censor online content, along with an array of regulations limiting foreign firms’ access to the market, Mr. Cory said. The framework has pushed U.S. companies such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and others into a partial or full retreat from the country.
“China has shown itself to be fairly thin-skinned and punitive when responding to its trade partners,” Mr. Cory said, adding that it can also squeeze companies through licensing reviews.
But any action taken by China could ultimately hinge on how good a deal ByteDance gets for TikTok, said James Lewis, director of the technology policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group. Besides, there is no clear target for retaliation—China has effectively barred all TikTok’s social media competitors already, he said.
“They’d have to escalate,” Mr. Lewis said, noting that Microsoft is one of the relatively few U.S. firms with positive ties to the Chinese government.
While nerves have frayed further in the past few days, he said, the larger points of contention between the U.S. and China lie in artificial intelligence, semiconductors, 5G networks and quantum computing—not TikTok.
“When the Chinese think about tech competition with the U.S., this isn’t even a top-five deal,” Mr. Lewis said.
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