On the heels of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floating the Trump administration’s scrutiny on TikTok last Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on July 12 that he expected President Trump to take actions against TikTok and WeChat in an interview with Fox News. Also, Navarro would not rule out the possibility of banning the two social media applications in the States. Any actions, however, have not been specified by the administration and are claimed to be part of a broader effort to protect American citizens’ data privacy.
While TikTok and WeChat are owned by the Chinese tech giants, ByteDance and Tencent, respectively, they engage distinct user demographics in the US. Tiktok has experienced huge engagement among local youngsters; however, WeChat is primarily used by overseas Chinese and global businesses with a footprint in the mainland or have relationship to the Chinese market.
In light of the recent political tensions, TikTok is now in the position of dealing with allegations of disclosing user data to China. Though the company has appointed an American CEO and has been working to distance the global operations from its Chinese roots, Navarro’s accusation of its American CEO as an “American puppet” has not helped TikTok’s case.
The possible backlash of TikTok would impact marketers that target American younger consumers, as they may lose ground in leveraging social virality on the popular video-sharing platform. However, the consequence of a potential WeChat ban would mainly affect the business side of the platform, as the ecosystem’s wide-ranging functions are mostly limited to messaging outside of China and paying in certain travel destinations. Though further effects of a possible WeChat ban remain unclear until detailed restrictions are set forth — if they actually happen — the measure would, at the bare minimum, create some communication obstacles for China-US corporations.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.