Facing threats of a US ban and smears by rival Facebook, popular video-sharing app TikTok has been compelled to respond to what observers describe as an effort to rip up the Chinese-owned firm and reap their own commercial, political benefits and monopolize the tech economy.
ByteDance, owner of the video platform, said in the course of becoming a global firm, it has "faced all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, collision and conflict of different cultures and plagiarism and smears from competitor Facebook."
The company vows to strive for its vision of globalization, strictly abide by local laws, and actively safeguard its legitimate interests and rights, reports Xinhua.
Bytedance's allegations of plagiarism against Facebook have two aspects, according to Zhang Xiaorong, an internet market analyst in Beijing.
Facebook launched a knockoff app named Lasso in 2018, but it soon failed.
In November last year, Facebook launched Instagram Reels, which also bears highly identical features as TikTok, and is spending hugely to promote the app in several countries.
Facebook has promoted the new app in Brazil, France, Germany and more recently in India.
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer mentioned the two copycat products in an article on the company website last week.
"At TikTok we welcome competition. We think fair competition makes all of us better. To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on. Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly," Mayer wrote.
Mayer slammed Facebook's "maligning attacks" disguised as patriotism to drive TikTok out of the United States.
He added the company is willing to take all necessary steps to ensure its long-term availability and success.
"Facebook has fared rather poorly in the field of short videos, and it then launched the two apps which resemble TikTok. The logic and facts speak volumes of copying. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not deny it himself," said Huang Yuanpu, founder of EqualOcean, a leading tech-media and investment research company in China.
The US government has threatened to ban TikTok video apps under the pretext of maintaining a free and fair market as well as national security concerns, a pretense widely used to discriminate against Chinese companies and investment.
US President Donald Trump confirmed that he is open to a deal in which Microsoft or other US companies buy one of the most popular video-sharing apps.
He has set September 15 as the deadline for TikTok to find a US buyer or face shutdown in the country.
Beneath the excuse of national security lies the true intent for political and commercial gains, analysts say.
"The tricks used by the U.S. against firms like TikTok reflect a deep-rooted prejudice against China," said Luo Yihang, founder of Pingwest, a tech consulting firm.
"Flagrant suppression of rivals and containment will eventually undermine commercial innovation in the United States in the long run and it will surely block technological exchanges between the two countries," he said.
TikTok has nearly 80 million monthly active users in the US. Many users have grown to rely on the platform for building a career in social media and earn a living.
The firm's US job growth has already nearly tripled this year, surging from almost 500 employees on January 1 to just under 1,400.
In a statement today, CEO Kevin Mayer said, "we are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda — our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy."
"Without TikTok, American advertisers would again be left with few choices. Competition would dry up and so too will an outlet for America's creative energy," Mayer said..