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If the US bans TikTok, China will be getting a taste of its own medicine

Editor’s Note: CNN’s Meanwhile in China newsletter which explores what you need to know about the country’s rise and how it impacts the world. Hong Kong CNN  —  TikTok is now facing a ban in the United States, a fate that has already befallen a string of American social media giants that tried to make it in China. On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill which could ban TikTok in the country if its Chinese owner ByteDance doesn’t sell the app to an entity that satisfies the US government. “The bill passed by the US House of Representatives puts the US on the opposite side of the principle of fair competition and international economic and trade rules,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a briefing Thursday. But American apps have long been barred in China. Beijing currently blocks most US social media platforms — including Google, YouTube, X, Instagram and Meta — because they refuse to follow the Chinese government’s rules on data collection and the type of content shared. In 2010, Google pulled out from mainland China after operating there for four years. It said at the time that it was no longer willing to continue censoring results on, citing Chinese-originated hacks on it and other US companies. More than 10 years after that high-profile retreat, the shoe is on the other foot, even if the circumstances aren’t exactly the same. “The TikTok bill appears likely to become law and China’s displeasure seems ironic, if not hypocritical, given its stance toward American social apps,” said Brock Silvers, managing director at Kaiyuan Capital. Asked about China’s stance on US apps, Wang said “this is completely different” and “you can clearly see what is bullying and what is gangster logic.” The focus is now on the US Senate, where many lawmakers said they are still evaluating the legislation. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. US officials and legislators have long expressed concerns about TikTok’s potential national security risks, including that it could share data with the Chinese government, or manipulate content displayed on the platform. But TikTok has rejected the claims. On Thursday, following the House vote, the Chinese Commerce Ministry pledged that the country would take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its interests regarding TikTok. The Chinese government has said it strongly opposes a forced sale of TikTok, and it has the legal ability to do so. It views TikTok’s technology as highly valuable and has taken steps since 2020 to ensure it can veto any sale by ByteDance.