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It’s crazy to stop TikTok building a UK HQ simply to soothe Donald Trump’s bruised ego. It will sabotage our economic recovery

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
It’s crazy to stop TikTok building a UK HQ simply to soothe Donald Trump’s bruised ego. It will sabotage our economic recovery
Senior politicians want the Chinese video-sharing app banned from setting up camp in London, but it’s more about keeping onside with the thin-skinned US president’s ongoing trade war with Beijing than any legitimate concerns.

The to-ing and fro-ing by the UK government about whether or not to block TikTok from building a headquarters here is as irritating as some of those dance moves so popular on the Chinese video-sharing app.

Leading the charge of those dead against TikTok owners Bytedance creating 3,000 jobs in the capital is ex-Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, or IDS as the Westminster vernacular has him. 

Also on rt.com TikTok unveils new website aimed at dispelling ‘rumors & misinformation’ spread by Washington

The reason IDS is ex-leader is because he was absolutely hopeless in that job and I was unaware he had acquired the insight of Confucius into all things Chinese since being unceremoniously dumped by his colleagues after a couple of unremarkable years ended in 2003.

He said we should refuse to endorse any Bytedance move to London “on security and human rights grounds.”

By far the most sensible input anyone has had into the debate is that by business minister Lord Grimstone, the former chairman of Barclays Bank and Standard Life Aberdeen who backs the TikTok move. He said: “Everything in China gets associated with politics but we have to look through politics to help get successful business with China.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

As you read this, a freight train carting 45 shipping containers, holding among other things 368,300 medical masks and 94.9 tonnes of melt-blown non-woven fabric for manufacturing many more, is on its way from Xi’an in north western China to Milan in Italy in an epic 18-day 12,300km journey along the new Silk Road connecting Asia to Europe which has been running red hot since this time last year.

Also on rt.com Trump ups pressure on ByteDance, demanding it sell US assets & delete all TikTok data in 90 days with new order

Italy has certainly played a blinder in cementing this massive trade relationship that is quite clearly mutually rewarding. 

Why can’t the British PM and his team see how important the exchange of goods and services is in the here and now instead of allowing senior figures to continue insulting successful Chinese businessmen and the Chinese government over some perceived threat they envisage in the future?

Oh, wait, maybe there’s a clue to the British reluctance to cosy up to the Chinese in the alarming analysis by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres that US-China tension“has never been as dysfunctional as it is today” and risks turning the world into two separate blocs.

“These divides, namely the economic divide, risks to create (sic) two blocs, with two dominant currencies, with the two sets of trade rules, two different internets, two strategies in artificial intelligence and then, inevitably, two geo-strategic and military strategies,” he said.

That is a huge risk for the world.

Maybe so, but that’s no deterrent to Donald Trump, who has never made a secret of his distaste for China and prefers if his allies display a like-minded approach when facing Beijing.

Fearful of falling on the wrong side of the argument, the UK has weighed into Trump’s dispute with TikTok, which has always seemed more personal than political it has to be said. Mr President’s ego doesn’t like it when people like Sarah Cooper make funny videos mocking him that millions of people watch on the platform.

The UK puts a protective arm around him, issues stern warnings to TikTok and fluffs up allegations over purported data breaches that may not even happen in spite of the amazing opportunity of 3,000 new jobs created in London by the company.

Also on rt.com Mayor pitches Frankfurt as ‘ideal location’ for TikTok’s European HQ as it faces US ban

If it were Facebook or Twitter offering to inject that sort of impetus into the capital, despite their dubious data dealings, we’d be rolling out the red carpet and sending limos to Heathrow to ferry their executives to lavish receptions with the great and the good.

We’re gonna look pretty stoopid come November if Trump isn’t returned to the White House. Those Chinese windmills we tilted at in support of President Donald Quixote – Huawei and TikTok (Hong Kong is a mess we own ourselves) – will still be there, but no one apart from us will be seeing any threat.

All those desperately needed jobs will simply go somewhere else and China will find plenty of willing trading partners elsewhere less inclined to sabotage their own world trade standings.

And we will have Sir Iain Duncan Smith and his poodle pals to thank.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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