Biden signs S$130 billion foreign policy bill including TikTok ban into law, starts clock on ByteDance sale

Tick tock, TikTok.

Tan Min-Wei | April 25, 2024, 12:59 AM

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President of the United States Joe Biden has signed into law a bill that might lead to the eventual ban of social media platform TikTok in the U.S.

Tick tock TikTok

According to the BBC, Biden signed the bill into law on Apr. 24 (U.S. time), capping what has been a relatively quick second attempt at banning the popular app.

Former President Donald Trump had attempted to ban the app in 2020, but last minute wrangling allowed TikTok to continue on.

TikTok’s ownership by its China-based parent company, ByteDance, has seen concern about the app and its access to sensitive data about its almost 170 million U.S. users, grow over the span of several years.

There are also worries about the app's potential ability to conduct influence operations.

Earlier this year in March, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to give ByteDance six months to divest itself from TikTok, a timeline that was extended to up to 12 months on Apr. 20, in order to get the legislation passed by the U.S. Senate.

The extended timeframe will mean that TikTok will still probably be owned by ByteDance during the 2024 Presidential Election.

Joe Biden said initially that he would sign a TikTok ban bill should such a bill cross his desk.

Now that it has, he has made good on his word.

Divest or die

The ban is stridently opposed by both TikTok, ByteDance, and the Chinese government.

TikTok, which is based in Singapore and led by Singaporean CEO Shou Chew Zi, has said that it would exercise its legal rights to fight the ban.

The company has repeatedly said that it is not an agent of China or any other country, according to the BBC .

The BBC also quotes ByteDance as saying that it is not a Chinese company, and that it is 60 per cent owned by global investment firms.

China has said that it would firmly oppose the sale of TikTok, claiming that it would breach export rules that prevent the sale of sensitive technologies.

After exhausting all the alternatives

The build that passes the ban also includes US$95 billion (S$129.3 billion) worth of military aid, including US$61 billion (S$84 billion) for Ukraine, fighting off an invasion by Russia.

US$4 billion in aid will also be designated for Israel after several months of fighting in Gaza, and more recently its armed face-off with Iran, for replenishing its missile defence systems and weapons purchases.

It also includes US$9.5 billion (S$13 billion) in humanitarian aid for people in conflict zones, including Gaza.

A lesser but still substantial portion is designated for the Indo-Pacific, most notably Taiwan.

Biden, when signing the bill, mostly addressed issues surrounding the renewed military aid for Ukraine.

The New York Times quoted him as saying it is a "good day for world peace", and that the signing of the bill would make the world and the U.S. safer.

The news was also welcomed by Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who posted on social media saying:

"I am grateful to President Biden, Congress, and all Americans who recognize that we must cut the ground under Putin's feet rather than obeying him, as this is the only way to truly reduce threats to freedom."

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Top image via Joe Biden/X and Solen Feyissa on Unsplash