In a remote Himalayan valley on June 15, Chinese and Indian military troops engaged in a deadly clash over disputed territory that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese casualties. By the end of the month, India, citing data security concerns, had banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including the popular video platform TikTok. Since then, officials in the U.S. and Australia have called for bans of the app over concerns that the Chinese government can access TikTok’s user data, since the app is owned by Beijing-based tech firm ByteDance Ltd. Before the government ban, India was TikTok’s largest market with 81 million monthly active users (MAUs). The loss of the U.S. market and its 30 million MAUs would prove another huge blow. TikTok is by far one of China’s most successful Internet exports, but its high-profile global presence has made it a bugbear for wariness of the Chinese government and a geopolitical hot potato. TikTok is attempting to distance itself from its owner, but growing global suspicion of Big Tech in general and of Chinese government influence in particular spell trouble for the app.
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