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Escalating U.S., China tensions as Trump targets TikTok: Everything you need to know Updated: 2020-08-04 15:47:29 KST

TikTok, an app known for quirky, short videos, is facing political heat because of its ties to China.
U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up his campaign against the short-form video app.
Last week, he said TikTok would be banned from the U.S., but on Monday he appeared to give the app a reprieve until next month.
That gives Microsoft, which is seeking to purchase TikTok's U.S. operations, more time to secure a deal with ByteDance, the app's Chinese parent company.

"I set a date of around September 15th, at which point it's gonna be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, and whether it's Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that'll be interesting. I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is, that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it's China, essentially, but, more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen."

The president's comments follow a flurry of news late last week and over the weekend that raised the specter of an immediate ban of the popular app.
What is the deal with TikTok and how will this impact already thorny relations between the world's two largest economies?
It's the topic of our News In-depth with Yang Junsok, Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Korea.

Professor Yang, great to see you again.

First of all, why is the Trump administration worried about TikTok?

How has TikTok responded so far? Concerns about privacy and national security aren't new to TikTok, and as far as I remember, it's tried to push back against political scrutiny.
In 2019, TikTok said all U.S. user data is stored in the U.S. with a backup in Singapore.

Can the U.S. make ByteDance sell its U.S. operations?

The U.S. administration has limited authority to make illegal any specific piece of software, like an app. But, can the U.S. government outlaw the use of a specific app?

What happens to TikTok has become, improbably, one of the great stories of our time - one that will help us understand how the world economy is likely to develop over the next 30 years.
This is about global rivalry between the U.S. and China of course, but it is also about American politics and about international finance.
If Microsoft does get control of the U.S. side of TikTok, do you think it will bring this into direct rivalry with its newer rivals, like Facebook and Google?

This isn't just about TikTok. The bigger picture is a global rivalry between the world's two largest economies. Perhaps the U.S. not used to being challenged by a rival like China.
What kind of a U.S. versus China are we seeing here?

How will this spill over to trade tensions between the two and how will that impact other economies that are heavily reliant on U.S. and China such as South Korea?

Yang Junsok, Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Korea, many thanks for your insights as always. We appreciate it.

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