Kyle Bass prefers the term "China realist" to "China hawk", but the inveterate China critic, who last year bet against the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback, appeared on CNBC Tuesday morning to share his thoughts on TikTok, HSBC and the prospect of 'decoupling' between the US and China.
As Bass has explained on several occasions, the US is maneuvering against China on four fronts: there's what Bass calls "kinetic war" - a clash between the world's two largest militaries - in addition to a cyber war, a narrative war, an economic war.
Pushing back against critics like Barry Diller, who slammed the Trump Administration's approach to the TikTok deal, Bass blamed "China's own policies that have put them in this situation in overplaying their hand."
.@Jkylebass on his issues with a TikTok deal: "Number 1: The Chinese government has the aggressive data collection policies through TIkTok. Number 2: TikTok's algorithm can influence the thinking and the minds of US youth over time." pic.twitter.com/uBffwp08E2— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) September 22, 2020
TikTok is "very close" to the Chinese government, Bass argued. Its data collection policies are "aggressive", and most importantly "China controls the narrative - that's what they do best."
For example, Bass explained, if Goldman Sachs wants to open up a new business line in China, China will demand that all of the data collected on Chinese citizens be stored on a server inside China. It's an approach that the EU is trying to copy - and President Trump now, too, apparently.
Trump is just trying to enforce the same standard in the US, any way he can, Bass argued.
But it's not just Beijing collecting the user data that worries Bass - it's the CCP's ability to manipulate the minds of young Americans via its content-recommendation algorithm. It's an issue that WSJ touched upon in a story filed a few months ago that, strangely, didn't make much of a splash in the US.
This is insane https://t.co/Rt1t7SxoIc— jsadinolfi (@jsadinolfi) June 17, 2020
While some have argued that it would be impossible for ByteDance to withhold the algorithm, as it claims it would do, Bass argued that Beijing is trying to keep it secret fora reason.
"They control that algorithm and that's of course the algorithm they don't want to give up," Bass said.
Later in the interview, Bass turned his attention to bashing HSBC, which saw its shares hit a 25-year-low following a massive leak of FinCEN SARs that exposed more of the bank's work with terrorists and drug cartels, allegations that contributed to a $2 billion settlement back in 2012.
To be sure, it looks like the deal is headed for the dustbin, as the Global Times publishes another editorial bashing the Trump Administration's attempt to "steal" an iconic Chinese company, amid reports that regulators are preparing to strike it down.