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If Biden is going after TikTok, expect Trump to back the app

China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-19 08:03

This combination of pictures created on March 6, 2024 shows US President Joe Biden and former US president Donald Trump. [Photo/Agencies]

In response to a question in a 30-second video on June 7, former US president Donald Trump said he would never ban TikTok, a major reversal from his earlier ambiguous stand toward the app owned by Chinese firm ByteDance.

In an interview with CNBC on March 11, Trump had repeated his argument that TikTok endangers national security in the United States, while justifying the need for it to continue to exist in the US. In a post on his Truth Social platform on April 21, Trump accused Joe Biden of being the one who pushed to shut down TikTok in order to help his friends on Facebook become richer and more influential, and urged young American voters to remember this on voting day.

Since its launch in 2017 by ByteDance, TikTok, the international version of the Chinese video app Douyin, had been growing in strength in North America, but it began to encounter fierce bipartisan suppression in 2019, on grounds of its alleged links to the Chinese government. Trump became a leader of the anti-TikTok campaign. In July 2020, his campaign team ran political ads on Facebook and Instagram, accusing TikTok of "spying" on users. On Aug 6 that year, without waiting for Congress, Trump signed an executive order saying the US must take active action to protect national security and address the threat posed by TikTok. Trump demanded that ByteDance sell TikTok to a US company within 45 days or face a complete ban in the US.

In July 2020, during the campaign, Biden asked his team members to remove TikTok from their work and personal devices. From 2022 to 2023, the Biden administration intensified the crackdown against TikTok, pushing the House and Senate to pass a bill requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US company within 270 days.

However, the strategy of opposing all proposals of the opponent in a presidential election year makes it inevitable that Trump strongly disagrees with all the policies of the Biden administration, especially when he finds its stance on TikTok unpopular with the US public at large. A 2023 Pew poll found that one-third of US citizens are using TikTok, and the app is used by 62 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 29. Trump's team believes TikTok could be of great help to his election.

In fact, Trump's election as US president was to a large extent because of his use of social networking sites; he was once even nicknamed the "Twitter president". However, many observers also believe Trump makes rash promises and then willfully breaks them, which they think damages his political integrity, and make his promises on TikTok seem unreliable.


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