"ByteDance and its addictive videos is China's first Internet company to do better than Americans"

Beijing is tightening censorship of social networks at a time when many of its companies are distrustful of Westerners. This is not good news for the young star of the Chinese Internet, explains Philippe Escande, economic editorialist in the "World".

By Philippe Escande Posted yesterday at 11h29, updated yesterday at 17h10

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Chronic. In China, the government now places the integrity of the party and the morality of its fellow citizens above the baseless economic considerations. He published Wednesday, January 9, a catalog of hundred rules of conduct for social networks and particularly sites microvideos that are popular among young people. They will always be able to exchange frantically some dance steps or the exploits of their kitten but will be banished any imitation or mockery of the leaders of the party, including clothing, as well as heroes of the fatherland; any separatist allusion (Taiwan, Hong Kong); any attempt to ridicule Chinese culture and finally, of course, the slightest allusion to sex, from the most chaste kiss to foot fetishism.

This does not help the business of ByteDance, the biggest Chinese star of the Internet in 2018. With its site Douyin declined internationally under the name of TikTok, it seduced in three years more than half a year. billion young Internet users in the world, to the United States. Better than Twitter or Snapchat. The firm has already planned to increase the number of moderators-censors to 10,000 people and his boss had to apologize publicly for having undermined the values ​​of socialism by letting some videos or advertisements pass.

Dangerous slope

This stiffening of the Chinese authorities adds to the economic climate, which stretches singularly within the Middle Kingdom and with the rest of the world. The repeated assaults of Donald Trump against Beijing are beginning to produce their effects. While 2018 broke all trade records between China and its trading partners, the month of December reversed the trend. Exports fell by 4.4% and, perhaps most worryingly, imports fell by 7.6%. This means that domestic demand is weakening even though it is supposed to take over from export sales.

Aware of this dangerous slope, the country multiplies stimulus plans and has just announced the doubling of the limit of foreign investment for Chinese companies, bringing it to 300 billion dollars (261 billion euros). However, it will take more to improve its image. His telecom champion Huawei is now wary of distrust in all Western countries where he sells his equipment. Peking's hand everywhere is suspected of being behind his enterprises. Chinese power is scary.