White House adviser Peter Navarro said he expects President Donald Trump to take “strong action” against Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat for engaging in “information warfare” against the U.S.
The Trump administration is “just getting started” with the two apps, and he wouldn’t rule out the U.S. banning them, Navarro said on Fox News on Sunday. Even if TikTok is sold to an American buyer, it wouldn’t solve the problem, he said.
“If TikTok separates as an American company, that doesn’t help us,” Navarro said. “Because it’s going to be worse — we’re going to have to give China billions of dollars for the privilege of having TikTok operate on U.S. soil.”
President Donald Trump said last week his administration is considering banning the short video app TikTok in the U.S. The examination of TikTok was part of a broader effort to protect American citizens’ private data, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had said. Navarro didn’t specify which action the administration might take.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., is popular among teens in the U.S. WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, is the top communication app in mainland China and used by Chinese users globally.
TikTok has drawn concern among U.S. officials and corporate America is looking into its use among staff. Wells Fargo & Co. asked employees to remove TikTok from their work phones due to concerns about the security.
Amazon.com Inc. told employees on Friday to delete TikTok from mobile devices they use to access company email, but later said the instruction was an error.
Navarro alleged that Amazon’s decision to “back away” shows the “power of the Chinese Communist Party on corporate America.”
TikTok has repeatedly denied allegations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security. The company is mulling changes to its corporate structure to distance itself from China. TikTok is considering a number of locations for a global base, the person familiar with the plans told Bloomberg earlier. Its five largest offices are in Los Angeles, New York, London, Dublin and Singapore.
Navarro said TikTok is running the same playbook as Huawei Technologies Co. by hiring former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as new CEO. Putting “an American puppet” in charge is not going to work, he said.
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