One more step to ban TikTok,did yesterday, Wednesday, the USA after adoption by the House of Representatives of the bill which calls on the social media outlet to sever its ties to China.

This is an important development for the platform, although the outcome of the vote in the Senate, whose approval is necessary for it to become law, is not certain.

For its part, Beijing today assured that it would take “all necessary measures” to protect Chinese businesses.

“The US must (…) stop pressures aimed at driving foreign companies” out of its market, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce complained, warning that China “will take all necessary measures” to defend its businesses.

“The bill passed by the US House of Representatives puts the US on the opposite track to the principle of fair competition and international economic and trade rules,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

“If the pretext of national security can be used to arbitrarily drive out successful enterprises of other countries, then there is neither equality nor justice,” Wang complained.

Faced with the threat of prohibition, TikTok president and CEO Su Zhiqiu called on the medium’s 170 million US users to react en masse. “Make our voices heard,” he wrote on TikTok and X after the vote in Parliament.

“We will not stop standing up for ourselves and will continue to do everything we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform we have built with you,” he added.

He estimated that the bill endangers “300,000 jobs” in the US, mainly threatening to deprive “billions of dollars” in revenue from “small businesses that depend on TikTok.”

TikTok has been targeted by US authorities for months, with many officials saying the platform allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate its 170 million US users, which the company strongly denies.

The company has repeatedly assured that it has not received such requests from Beijing and stresses that even if it did, it would refuse to disclose personal data of its users.

“Secret” process

The bill, which was adopted by a large majority of 352 votes to 431, “does not ban TikTok,” said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“It aims to address legitimate national security and data protection issues related to the Chinese Communist Party’s relationship with a social media outlet,” he explained.

“This process was conducted in secret and the bill was presented as an emergency for one reason: it is a ban,” complained the representative of TikTok.

However, the bill’s fate in the Senate remains uncertain, where influential senators have voiced their opposition to such an extreme measure at the expense of a hugely popular implementation.

US President Joe Biden has said that if the bill passes the Senate, he will sign it.

The bill forces ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, to sell the app within 180 days, or else it will be pulled from Apple and Google’s US online stores.

So far, no potential buyer has officially appeared. After all, it is difficult to assess the value of TikTok, especially in the case of a forced sale of the application. In 2020, ByteDance had set a price of $60 billion, when the administration of Donald Trump asked it to sell the platform, according to Bloomberg.

Freedom of expression

Many US states and the federal government have banned the app from public officials’ official phones, citing national security risks.

Former President Trump abruptly reversed course on Monday, saying he opposed banning TikTok, mainly because it would strengthen Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, which he has called an “enemy of the people.”

In 2020, Trump had tried to wrest TikTok from ByteDance’s control, before being blocked by US justice.

The Republican, who is running again in November’s presidential election, denies accusations that he changed his stance because a major TikTok investor, Jeff Yass, threatened to no longer donate to the party’s presidential campaigns.

Other attempts by US federal authorities to ban TikTok have also failed, largely due to concerns about freedom of expression.

A law passed in May by the state of Montana banning the platform was halted by a federal court in November as it violated Americans’ constitutional right to free speech.