Experts say TikTok ban could isolate U.S.

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Washington’s ban on TikTok and a related series of lawsuits are pushing the United States down the road of isolation, experts have said.

Rather than global integration and free competition, such a ban discriminates against companies from certain countries, said Carl F. Fey, professor of international business at Finland’s Aalto University.

“I think it is questionable if this ban meets World Trade Organization’s principles of openness and transparency,” he said.

“I am for an interconnected world with few barriers,” he said, adding that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has departed from this, and that he does not believe it represents the values that the United States has traditionally stood for.

“It is hard for most Americans like me to imagine that our government would ban major communication apps like TikTok in the U.S.,” said Fey.

“Today many Americans use TikTok to share videos and especially during COVID-19 times. This helps people connect each other and keep them happy when they can’t meet in person,” he said.

“It is also important to remember that nobody is forcing anyone to use TikTok or WeChat. If someone does not want to use these apps because they are concerned about the safety of their information, they don’t need to use them,” he added.

Mao Xuxin, a principal economist at London-based think tank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said the U.S. move is more an issue of protectionism.

“As we know that TikTok follows the rules in the countries it operates and the practices it adopts are the same as the U.S. social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc.,” he said.

Alexander Gusev, director of Russia’s Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, said behind such a ban is U.S. intention to sideline competitive foreign tech companies from the U.S. market.

The United States will try all it can to secure its monopoly in the information market, and it does not care about relevant international principles and rules, Gusev said.

Dan Roules, managing partner of the Shanghai Office of Squire Patton Boggs, said the U.S. ban would discourage foreign companies from investing and operating in the United States.

“I believe the actions of the Trump administration in the TikTok case and some other matters may raise concerns among foreign tech companies about the openness of the U.S. markets and the traditional presumption that decisions would be made in an even-handed manner under the rule of law,” he said.

Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sunday decided to halt the Trump administration’s ban on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, allowing it now to operate without interruption at least until a full court hearing.

On Aug. 6, Trump issued an executive order banning U.S. transactions with TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance after 45 days, citing national security concerns.

On Aug. 14, Trump signed another executive order that forces ByteDance to sell or spin off its U.S. TikTok business within 90 days.

TikTok had filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Aug. 6 executive order, and arguing that there is no credible evidence to back up Trump’s national security claims.

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