China is retaliating against the US for its 'naked bullying' of TikTok with a new security initiative
- China outlined a new global data security initiative on Tuesday, and called on other countries to sign up.
- The initiative is a retaliation against the US' "Clean Network Initiative" which it unveiled last month and is aimed at keeping Chinese internet infrastructure sealed off from the US.
- China's foreign minister also alluded to the US' attempts to force TikTok to sell off its US business or else face a ban, saying "This is naked bullying and should be opposed and rejected."
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China has launched an attempt to set global data security standards, in an attempt to counter US efforts to lock it out of the Western internet.
The initiative, announced by foreign minister Wang Yi, was framed as a shot at the Trump administration, which last month announced a new "Clean Network Initiative" aimed at sealing Chinese internet infrastructure off from the US.
Per Reuters, China's initiative calls on firms to seal up any security backdoors that could leave data vulnerable to hacking, while respecting the data laws of the countries they operate in.
It also calls on countries not to engage in mass surveillance of other countries, or to illegally acquire data on other countries' citizens.
"Some individual countries are aggressively pursuing unilateralism, throwing dirty water on other countries under the pretext of 'cleanliness', and conducting global hunts on leading companies of other countries under the pretext of security," said Wang. "This is naked bullying and should be opposed and rejected."
Wang added: "It is important to develop a set of international rules on data security that reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries," according to a transcript of his speech seen by The Journal.
Wang's comment on "leading companies" being hunted appears to be a thinly veiled reference to US treatment of TikTok and Huawei.
TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, is currently in negotiations to sell off the app's US business to an American buyer, or face a ban imposed by President Trump. The US last year also began a campaign of lobbying allied countries to freeze Chinese telecoms company Huawei out of their 5G networks.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration's Clean Network Initiative is a broad attempt to lock China out of much of the Western internet. The idea is to block "untrusted" Chinese apps from app stores; stop Chinese phone companies from pre-installing US apps; keep US data off Chinese cloud services; and guard undersea cables.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal China has already started lobbying other countries to get on board with its new initiative.
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