Biden admin vows to hold China ‘accountable’ while weighing approach to Huawei, TikTok

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The Biden administration on Monday signaled that it will continue to “hold China accountable” on technology-related concerns, though final decisions around its stance on social media app TikTok and telecom group Huawei have not yet been made. 

“Technology … is of course at the center of U.S.-China competition,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing on Monday. “China has been willing to do whatever it takes to gain a technological advantage — stealing intellectual property, engaging in industrial espionage and forcing technology transfer.”

“The president’s view is we need to play a better defense, which must include holding China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and making sure that American technologies aren’t facilitating China’s military build up,” Psaki added.

Her comments came after Psaki fielded questions about President Biden’s planned stance on Huawei, one of the largest 5G equipment manufacturers in the world.

The Trump administration took a series of steps against the company to ensure it was blocked out of the American telecom market, including adding Huawei to the Commerce Department’s entity list, effectively blacklisting the telecom group. The Federal Communications Commission also unanimously voted to classify Huawei as a “national security threat,” banning U.S. telecom groups from using Federal Communications Commission funds to purchase Huawei equipment. 

While Psaki did not have any specific details on the approach the Biden administration may take to the company, she called for a “comprehensive strategy” to prevent Chinese use of American data, stressing that Biden is “firmly committed to making sure that Chinese companies cannot misappropriate and misuse American data.”

“There is an ongoing review of a range of these issues. We want to look at them carefully, and we’ll be committed to approaching them through the lens of ensuring we are protecting U.S. data and America’s technological edge,” Psaki said.

TikTok is another company the Trump administration took steps against, with Trump issuing an executive order last year ordering Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the app or have it banned from use in the United States. 

The effort to ban TikTok stalled in the last months of the Trump administration following a contentious election, with the deadline for sale of the app passing with no action taken. 

Psaki had no details about how the Biden administration would approach the app when questioned by a reporter on Monday. 

Tensions between the U.S. and China escalated under the Trump administration, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and after former President Trump ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston last year, citing the need to protect U.S. intellectual property. 

Prior to Psaki’s comments, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on world leaders to work together in the wake of the pandemic during a speech at the World Economic Forum. CNN reported that Xi called on governments “to abandon ideological prejudice and jointly follow a path of peaceful coexistence, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.”

While Psaki did not comment on specific details of Biden’s approach to China, she stressed Monday that Biden planned to work with Democrats and Republicans along with foreign allies in choosing how to proceed on numerous China-related fronts. 

“We believe that this moment requires a strategic and a new approach moving forward,” Psaki said.

Tags China Chinese technology Donald Trump FCC Huawei Jen Psaki tiktok
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