On Sept. 27 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled to suspend the implementation of the U.S. government’s previous executive order to remove TikTok from U.S. mobile app stores.
We welcome this ruling, but at the same time, we must be ready to respond to new circumstances. No one can predict what the U.S. government will do next. However, people hope that the U.S. government can actually respect the principles of a market economy and fair competition. This ruling is a small turnaround in events since the White House announced in August that it would buy TikTok on national security grounds. It’s clear that during a two-month game, the U.S. appeared to act erratically but was actually pressing harder with every step, and this was played out many times. What is obvious for everyone to see is that the United States is not only damaging business interests in other countries, but taking its own national credibility into the red.
The U.S. government is harming the interests of its own people. The reason why the removal order was urgently halted just before it came into effect was because of TikTok’s popularity in the United States. In August of this year, TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. exceeded 100 million, making it the most popular and fastest-growing short video app in the United States. The U.S. government’s threat to ban TikTok has been greeted with widespread and strong resistance from its predominantly young user base. Some U.S. creators on the TikTok platform who hope to stop the ban from taking effect are taking their claims to court. The actions of the current U.S. administration that damage the interests of the American people are not limited to this. Currently, about 3,500 American companies are suing the U.S. government in the United States Court of International Trade. They are asking the court to rule that the U.S. government-imposed tariffs on Chinese goods under section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act are “unlawful” and that corresponding taxes paid by the companies be refunded.
The U.S. government is harming its own country’s business environment. In its dealings with TikTok, the “China” label and the “national security” pretext are nothing but an attempt by the U.S. to redirect its internal contradictions to the outside world. In recent years as the U.S. has resorted more and more to Cold War rhetoric and bullying threats the world has also increasingly realized something: It turns out the business environment in the U.S. is actually like this! People may not believe what the U.S. says; people have seen what the U.S. actually does: Good businesses, “Welcome to the United States!” But please be careful. The U.S. wants to plunder you. Is this the business environment in the United States? Once this impression is formed it will inevitably have a long-term negative impact on the U.S. economy. It’s impossible that some wise people in the U.S. are unaware of this.
The U.S. government is hurting innovative and dynamic individuals. The appearance is menacing and aggressive but it is hard to hide appearing fierce while being cowardly at heart. Using the most popular global patent index it is easy to see that more of the new inventions registered in the United States each year since 2011 came from foreign companies or individuals than from the U.S. This shows how the overall size and innovation vitality of the U.S. market is supported more by foreign companies like TikTok, since these foreign companies only register patents in the U.S. because they want to operate in the U.S. market. Once these companies either leave the United States, one after another — or, frightened by threats and blackmail from U.S. authorities, are deterred from investing in the United States — the size and vitality of the U.S. market will shrink sharply and the real economy will suffer.
The U.S. government is damaging its own reputation. The world’s only superpower has a glorious history and the world’s “hardest” currency. What does it depend on? The endorsement of its national credibility.
However, what the U.S. government has done with TikTok was essentially depleting the credibility of the U.S. as a nation, making the rest of the world realize: The U.S. does whatever it wants with the view that rules are optional. At the Lanting Forum held in Beijing on Sept. 28, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that those who think they can ignore and break international rules because of their “big fists” will eventually be cast aside by history. It is this role that the U.S government is playing.
There is no equality in doing trade under duress. China has no illusions about intimidation. The U.S. side should not be too complacent, as the “gain” may be far less than the loss. The consequences of running out of credit will soon be apparent.