TikTok plans to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration as soon as Monday over an executive order banning transactions with the Chinese app in the U.S., the company has said.
The move comes on the first day of the Republican National Convention, four days of celebrating a president who’s made “tough on China” a centerpiece of his re-election bid and has dangled the idea of decoupling from China altogether.
TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd., said Saturday it would challenge the order banning transactions with the popular social media app. The company said it “strongly disagreed” with concerns raised by Trump. He subsequently gave it a 90-day deadline to divest its U.S. operations.
The skirmish is the latest between the Trump administration and China as November’s U.S. vote approaches and Trump makes his case for a second term.
It’s likely to come up frequently during the Republican meeting, at which Trump is expected to speak each night and multiple members of his family will also appear.
The topic that Americans are “going to hear from Donald J. Trump is how we are going to fight China and the China virus,” Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser, said on Fox News Sunday.
“We are coming hard at the China virus,” said Navarro, using a slur for Covid-19 popular with Trump and his administration.
The president, in an interview to air on Fox News Sunday night, raised the idea of a total split from China, according to an advance transcript from the network.
“You were asking a second question, would you ever just decouple? Not do business with China? Because you know, we don’t have to,” Trump said. “Well it’s something that if they don’t treat us right I would certainly, I would certainly do that.”
Chinese and U.S. officials were scheduled to talk over the weekend about the current state of the countries’ “phase one” trade deal. No readout has come as of Sunday night in Washington.
Republican officials have also criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for not mentioning China during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.
At the Republican gathering, advisers want Trump focused on the economy and the coronavirus. When those two subjects come up, China is usually not far behind.
“You’ve seen the intelligence reports: China very much wants Joe Biden to win,” Trump said Friday in remarks to a conservative group. “That would be very insulting if they wanted me to win. I don’t think so.”
The Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, opined last week that Biden would be “smoother” to deal with for Beijing, a comment seized upon by Republicans.
“The proposed Democrat platform on foreign policy showed that if Biden wins, the U.S. will remain tough on China,” the paper wrote. “But tactically, the U.S. approach would be more predictable, and Biden is much smoother to deal with than Trump — a viewpoint that is shared by many countries.”