The US-China Fight Over TikTok

Kevin Mayer, the executive director of the Chinese company TikTok, announced his resignation just a few days after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to prohibit use of the app in the United States. The former Disney senior executive resigned a few months after his appointment by the Chinese short-video platform, which has denounced the U.S. government for its threats. The Chinese-owned company has been accused by Trump’s administration of being a national security risk to the United States.

Mayer joined TikTok in June after leaving his position as Disney’s head of streaming services. TikTok was recently given a 90-day period to be sold to a U.S. company, or face a U.S. ban. “In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said in a letter to the employees who reprint various international media like the Financial Times.

Nevertheless, and despite the fact that conversations between the company and Trump continue, Mayer confirmed: “Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.” In a statement, the social media site said that they “fully” respect the executive’s departure. “We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward,” explained [a spokesperson for] TikTok.

The Trump administration maintains that TikTok poses a “threat” to U.S. national security, and therefore shut down its transactions as of Sept. 15, seeking to force its sale to a U.S. company like Microsoft, which has demonstrated interest in the popular social network. TikTok, which has more than 80 million users in the U.S., is one of the social networks that has grown the most in recent years. It has turned into the main source of entertainment for many teenagers and a marketing channel for many celebrities. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is opposed to the forced sale of TikTok — an operation that, in its opinion, violates the principles of the World Trade Organization.

In fact, the Chinese government views the intention to sell TikTok as another chapter in the trade war between Beijing and Washington, which is attempting to contain the ever-growing technological power of the Asian giant. It has already seen how the telecommunications firm Huawei has had to face restrictions, as well as the popular social network WeChat, owned by the digital conglomerate Tencent.

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