TikTok's lawsuit against US govt could coincide with convention

WASHINGTON • TikTok plans to file a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump's administration as early as this week over an executive order banning transactions with the Chinese app in the US, the company has said.

The move would coincide with the Republican National Convention, a four-day affair which celebrates a president who has made "tough on China" a centrepiece of his re-election bid and has dangled the idea of decoupling from China altogether.

A subsidiary of China-based ByteDance, TikTok said last Saturday that it would challenge the order banning transactions with the popular social media app.

Mr Trump had given the company a 90-day deadline to divest its US operations.

The skirmish is likely to come up frequently during the Republican meeting, at which Mr Trump is expected to speak every night as he makes his case for a second term.

The topic that Americans are "going to hear from Donald J. Trump is how we are going to fight China and the China virus", Mr Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser, said on Fox News Sunday, using a slur for Covid-19 popular with Mr Trump and his administration.

China yesterday said some American politicians had "attempted to strangle" TikTok, WeChat, Huawei Technologies and other Chinese companies.

"China supports the relevant Chinese companies using legal weapons to safeguard their legitimate rights," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing. "China will also continue to use all necessary measures to protect Chinese enterprises' legitimate rights."

Like other Republican officials, Mr Trump has criticised Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for not mentioning China during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.

"You've seen the intelligence reports: China very much wants Joe Biden to win," Mr Trump said last Friday to a conservative group.

The Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, said last week that Mr Biden would be "smoother" to deal with for Beijing, a comment seized upon by Republicans.

"The proposed Democrat platform on foreign policy showed that if Biden wins, the US will remain tough on China," the paper wrote.

"But tactically, the US approach would be more predictable, and Biden is much smoother to deal with than Trump - a viewpoint that is shared by many countries."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2020, with the headline 'TikTok's lawsuit against US govt could coincide with convention'. Print Edition | Subscribe