The US-China trade war has its ebbs and flows. It is either a strategy to slowly wean American companies off slowly from Chinese labour and trade zones, or just a brilliant negotiation tactic. Either way, the Donald Trump administration is playing the game like it has nothing to lose.
The newest move in the series is the announcement of the National Security and Personal Data Protection Act, by Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, which will make it illegal for American companies to store data in China. It will also stop Chinese companies from collecting any more data on American users than they need for operational purposes.
Hawley sees data being stored in Chinese data centres as a threat to American national security. He also fears that Chinese companies such as TikTok-parent ByteDance may be pressured by the Chinese Communist Party to share data on American users.
China has strict norms for foreign companies and calls for local storage of data. Even Chinese users' iCloud data is stored in a Chinese data centre.
"Current law makes it far too easy for hostile foreign governments like China to access Americans' sensitive data. Chinese companies with vast amounts of personal data on Americans are required by Chinese law to provide that data to Chinese intelligence services.
If your child uses TikTok, there's a chance the Chinese Communist Party knows where they are, what they look like, what their voices sound like, and what they're watching. That's a feature TikTok doesn't advertise," Hawley stated in a one-page summary released by his office on Monday.
It remains to be seen how this tug-of-war between both countries continues. China is already on the lookout for alternatives to American companies' software – Chinese companies are releasing their own operating systems, post the Huawei blacklisting issue.
But, will American companies find an alternative to Chinese hardware, that remains to be seen.
If this bill passes in the senate, it will definitely trigger some fireworks.