Pause in WeChat, TikTok ban a positive signal for China-US ties: analysts

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The US government on Thursday asked a court to halt the proceedings surrounding the former Trump administration’s ban on Chinese app WeChat, after a similar suspension on TikTok in another court on Wednesday, media reported on Friday.

Pause in WeChat, TikTok ban a positive signal for China-US ties: analysts

Analysts said the move is a positive sign for improving China-US bilateral ties and mitigating the tensions.

But they also warned that it would be too early to relax vigilance and Chinese tech firms should be prepared as always for potential political risks and crackdown.

“Recent public speeches by Biden and telephone conversations between the Chinese and US presidents on Thursday have shown positive signs of a detente between the two countries. The suspensions reflect the Biden administration’s governing philosophy as well as the denial of Trump’s ‘political legacy’,” Hu Qimu, chief researcher at the Sinosteel Economic Research Institute, told the Global Times on Friday.

Suspending the judicial proceedings suggests that Biden administration is re-evaluating and re-considering its China policies, even though the major tone of “competition” has been set, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday.

It remains to be seen whether the ban will be lifted, or continue – which will reflect concrete tactics Biden administration will adopt to compete with China, Li said.

“As the Biden Administration has taken office, the Department of Commerce has begun a review of certain recently issued agency actions, including the Secretary’s prohibitions regarding the WeChat mobile application at issue in this appeal,” according to a filing on Thursday by the US Justice Department with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the Washington Post reported.

The filing added that the Biden administration “remains committed to a robust defense of national security as well as ensuring the viability of our economy and preserving individual rights and data privacy.”

Biden Photo:VCG

The Biden administration placed a hold on proceedings involving TikTok ban on Wednesday at another US court, media reported. On January 26, an act stipulating US K-12 schools and universities to publish their cooperation with Chinese Confucius Institutes was also closed.

The suspensions could also be interpreted as a move to create a consistent atmosphere of softening confrontations amid the first phone talks between leaders of the two countries, which happened also on Thursday, analysts said.

Li believed before Biden administration comes up with a bunch of detailed ideas of dealing with China, such suspension is a sign of adjustment and leaving room for future policies.

“It’s a very positive signal for bilateral ties and trade ties. Meanwhile, for both China and the US, internal affairs are a priority under the overall pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn,” Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday.

Hu also said that Biden made it clear in his first foreign policy speech as president that the US needs to deal with its domestic problems first. “However, Biden currently sees China as the US’ ‘most serious competitor’. Thus, we should not expect the US to give China an easy development environment in the future, whether in research and development or the global supply chain,” Hu noted.

The competition will continue, and confrontation in many fields will be fierce, but China-US relationship would be rational and manageable, and top leaders’ communications and increasing mutual understanding will guide the course, Li said.

According to Wang, it is a very rare “strategic opportunity”, or to some extent, a period of respite for Chinese high-tech enterprises in the US. But Chinese firms should have foresight, because it’s too early to celebrate the reduced or delayed US ban and restriction.

Wang suggested that Chinese firms should be prepared for potential political risks and crackdown. In addition to business concerns, security and political concerns, as well as local social developments need to be considered.

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Chinese enterprises should use all reasonable and compliant means and methods at their disposal to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests, whether by law or through non-governmental means, such as joint lobbying with local community which shares the interest, Wang added.

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Source : Xinhua | Photocredit : Google

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