Chinese state media late Monday warned against what it called the U.S.’s “theft” of the social media app TikTok, cautioning that Beijing may retaliate.
The English-language China Daily newspaper published an editorial which highlighted China’s toughest protection of TikTok yet and cautioned that Beijing may block the sale of TikTok to American company Microsoft.
“China will by no means accept the ‘theft’ of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab,” it reads.
The state-run newspaper said it “might be preferable” for TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to sell the U.S. business, but the editorial called the U.S. effort to buy the app a “smash and grab.”
“With competitiveness now dependent on the ability to collect and use data, it offers an either-or choice of submission or mortal combat in the tech realm,” the China Daily said.
Chinese officials have been known to use the editorial page of the China Daily to send messages to U.S. and other Western officials, Bloomberg News noted.
President Trump and several American lawmakers have expressed concerns about TikTok’s ties to China accusing it of sending users’ data to the Chinese government, which TikTok has denied.
The president announced Monday that any sale involving TikTok must designate a portion of the payment to the Department of Treasury and be completed by Sept. 15.
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a tabloid run by the party’s People’s Daily newspaper, accused the U.S. of “open robbery” calling it a “rogue country” on Twitter.
The Global Times, another English-language newspaper, ran a piece that claimed the U.S. was taking action because TikTok posed a threat to American tech companies. The article also referenced the U.S.’s banning of Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company.
Huawei and ByteDance have “brought a sense of crisis to U.S. elites, which shows that China’s top companies have the ability to move to the forefront of the world in technology,” the Global Times said in the piece.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declined to comment on the potential sale to Bloomberg News, but spokesman Wang Wenbin repeated China’s claims that the U.S. was overreaching its power.
“If following the wrong example set by U.S., every country could use national security as an excuse to target American companies,” Wang said during a news briefing, according to Bloomberg News. “The U.S. should not … open a Pandora’s box, otherwise it will swallow the bitter fruit itself.”
The Trump administration threatened a ban on TikTok in the U.S. over the weekend, prompting Microsoft to begin negotiations with ByteDance to buy and keep the app running in the U.S. The president indicated he supported the deal during a Monday press conference, as long as the Sept. 15 deadline is met.