White House aide eyes an independent TikTok

AFP , Thursday 16 Jul 2020

TikTok, which faces a possible US ban, has long battled accusations it is a spying tool for Beijing AFP

TikTok, the social media platform that is all the rage with the world's teens, could break away from its Chinese parent to evade a US ban, a top White House adviser said Thursday.

"We haven't made final decisions (on the ban) but as has been reported in some places, I think TikTok is going to pull out of the holding company which is China-run and operate as independent company," White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters.

US President Donald Trump last week threatened to ban the wildly popular video sharing app as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.

TikTok, owned by Chinese group ByteDance, is estimated to have close to a billion users worldwide, and has long battled allegations that it is a spying tool for Beijing, pointing out it has an American CEO and consistently denying allegations that it shares user data.

Kudlow declined to speculate on who could buy TikTok, but said "that's a much better solution than banning" the platform.

The remarks also came as US Attorney General Bill Barr blasted China for mounting an "economic blitzkrieg" on global free markets in a withering speech that described the two superpowers as embroiled in an ideological battle for global leadership.

Trump blames China for the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to ravage the US, threatening the American economy and the president's reelection.

But he also fell victim to TikTok users, who along with legions of K-pop fans, claimed to have sabotaged Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month by reserving blocks of tickets for the event they had no intention of attending.

Trump's campaign boasted it had receive a million ticket requests, but only 6,200 people attended.

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