The commentator appears to be referring to some of Zhang’s Weibo posts from the early 2010s, which can be seen by some as liberal-leaning, putting the entrepreneur in the rank of “public intellectuals. ” The term has in recent years been thought of as derogatory, as internet patriots see the group as ignorant and worshippers of Western values. “The general view among Chinese social media users is that this is a tit-for-tat measure as part of the ongoing US-China trade war.
Although the backlash will have a chilling effect on Chinese companies expanding to the US, and potentially other Western markets, there simply aren’t many internet companies going from China to the West in the first place. “Most solutions that are built for China don’t solve problems that people have in the West,” observed Bao Bean.
On the China end, Zhang told his staff that the company has “initiated preliminary discussions with a tech company to help clear the way for us to continue offering the TikTok app in the U. S. ” The message corroborates reassurance from the app’s US general manager Vanessa Pappas that TikTok is “not planning on going anywhere.
Following months of efforts to sway US regulators and the public, TikTok reluctantly arrived at two concessions: “We faced the real possibility of a forced sale of TikTok’s US business by CFIUS or an executive order banning on the TikTok app in the US,” ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming wrote to employees in a letter on Monday.
On Weibo, a popular microblogging platform in China, hundreds of anonymous users joined in under a post about Zhang’s letter, cursing him as a traitor of China, an American apologist, a coward, among many other labels. “Zhang Yiming used to praise the US for allowing debate, unlike in China, where opinions are one-sided.
Smaller developers resort to the strategy of “laying low” about their Chinese origin. “We simply don’t take media interviews,” said CEO of a US-listed Chinese internet firm on condition of anonymity. “It’s not about the chilling effect.
Many agree that if the Microsoft deal goes through, it could be the least bad outcome for TikTok. “They are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said William Bao Bean, general partner at Chinaccelerator, a cross-border accelerator backed by SOSV. “We are in a fast-changing regulatory environment.
Compared to the internet fury, though, Beijing appeared relatively resigned, with a Foreign Ministry spokesperson merely denying US allegations against TikTok as fabricated “out of nothing” during a regular presser. (There’s no concrete evidence publicly presented by the US government yet to support its claims that TikTok is a national security threat.