China Would Rather TikTok Be Shut Down Than Sold

Walmart Enters the TikTok Purchase War - article

A report on Friday says that China would rather TikTok be shut down instead of being sold to a U.S. company.

However, Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

ByteDance said in a statement to Reuters that the Chinese government had never suggested to it that it should shut down TikTok in the United States or in any other markets.

Here’s what I think this means. China is all about the AI, and based on reports its algorithms seem to be more advanced than even invasive Facebook. China doesn’t want the U.S. to know just how more advanced it’s algorithms are. Read: China export ban of such technology.

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3 thoughts on “China Would Rather TikTok Be Shut Down Than Sold

  • Andrew:

    Both the Reuters and the earlier Business Insider pieces strongly suggest that TikTok is the hapless foil in a tug of war between the world’s two greatest economic and military powers, and the quest of their two leaders to assert dominance and avoid any show of weakness with a public loss of face. There are specific issues of how the app functions and its impact on user privacy, and which are independent of ownership, that merit discussion. The issues of security and ownership can be sorted separately, so long as the policy of ‘trust but verify’ is enforced. One laments the want of adult leadership on the world stage, but that’s a topic for another time.

    Your point about China’s gathering superior proficiency with AI is important, and likely a primary driver of Xi’s unwillingness to see that IP under US ownership. Even that part is negotiable, with the right people in room.

    As for China’s gains in AI, there have been several statements from Western, notably US, intel leaders underscoring those gains in their threat assessment from a potentially hostile rival power, and noting them with gathering urgency. There is a belief, however uncommon, that both China and Japan are surpassing the US in AI, at a time when the current US administration has shown, and continues to show, both contempt and hostility towards science and technology, as demonstrated by staffing key governmental agencies with science illiterate and incurious (ie unqualified) persons, resulting in a non-sustainable evacuation of capable scientific expertise from key agencies related to national security (see Michael Lewis’ The Fifth Risk for a detailed anatomical dissection).

    The prospects for US security, in particular, are grim barring a hard course correction; as the first shot fired in the next major contest between superpowers will not be leaden or nuclear, but cybernetic and decisive.

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