After last week’s column, I really wanted to get back to the bread and butter of technology in China. But the events of the past few days have made that quite difficult: The NBA has seen major backlash in China (where their official streams are hosted by Tencent) after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted about the Hong Kong protests on October 4th. US Senator Marco Rubio (an avowed China hawk) is calling on the Trump administration to begin an investigation into Bytedance’s purchase of Musical.ly on national security grounds, something TechNode predicted months ago when the company was having problems in India.

Before we go any further, I want to make it very clear: TechNode does not take any position on political matters. Our mission is to inform the world about China through the lens of technology. In order to do that, we “seek truth from facts” so that you, the reader, can glean actionable insights into this complex market. I hope I do that mission justice with this essay.

Bottom line: The friction between disparate value systems is increasing with no end in sight. A post by a private individual to a Western public social media platform blocked in China that touched on a sensitive political issue has been interpreted as an affront to the Chinese people and the nation’s sovereignty. On the flip side, TikTok, the only Chinese-managed content platform to take off in the West, is being targeted for their alleged censorship of issues deemed sensitive to Chinese government. Taking both of these events at face value is, of course, naive. Doing so, however, offers a great opportunity to explore important points of conflict.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...