Regarding US TikTok plunder, ByteDance must not back down

According to the Wall Street Journal on March 9, former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick approached ByteDance to express interest to buy TikTok and floated the idea of partnering with CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman and others. ByteDance responded on Sunday stating that this report is not true.

ByteDance cannot back down this time; only by legally and reasonably persisting can it possibly see a bright future.

The political and business circles in the US are colluding with the media to conduct unprecedented shameless hunting on TikTok in international commercial history. However, justice should not be fragile, and should not bow down in front of power. TikTok should play its cards right and mobilize a large number of users to jointly exert greater pressure on the US Congress and the Biden administration. Now that Trump has changed his attitude and he is against a TikTok ban, this shows that as long as public opinion is clear and strong enough, it is possible to create political variables.

Everyone understands that the “national security” concerns surrounding TikTok have been greatly exaggerated, and the essence of this matter is commercial plunder. American political elites cannot stand the global popularity of TikTok, which is beyond the control of American capital, as well as its leading role, so they want to take it over. The conscience of American internet and high-tech giants has all been eaten by dogs in this matter. They do not refute the political propositions of Congress and the White House, do not speak a fair word for TikTok’s plight, but are happy to see TikTok’s injustice develop in this way. They even hope that ByteDance will eventually hand over control, and American capital will take advantage of the situation.

Actually, although there are reports that TikTok is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ByteDance, ByteDance’s equity structure has long been completely internationalized, with roughly 60 percent owned by global institutional investors, 20 percent owned by the company’s founders, and 20 percent owned by its employees — including over 7,000 Americans. Now the Biden administration is demanding that Chinese investors completely withdraw from TikTok, which is baseless both legally and morally. As long as ByteDance insists on not selling shares, uses US law to deal with the ban, and fully mobilizes global investors and TikTok users, it is entirely possible to delay this case until after this year’s US election, just like it narrowly escaped under the ban of the Trump administration four years ago.

As long as ByteDance remains firm, willing to shut down TikTok rather than give up ownership, it will create reverse pressure on the passage of the bill, forcing some US lawmakers and the Biden administration to face the political risks of removing TikTok from US app stores. From the passage of the bill to its enforcement, and then 165 days later, it will be early September, when the US election reaches its climax, and Biden’s reelection will face the blow he creates for himself by banning TikTok. Will Biden dare to do that? It’s uncertain.

Therefore, the act of ByteDance promptly denying rumors of contacting with American companies regarding the sale of shares is indeed commendable.

The writer is a Chinese media professional