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Tesla, TikTok push back over Trump's hard line on China

Tesla, Volvo, Ford and Mercedes-Benz have reportedly filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, aiming to end tariffs imposed on certain parts imported from China.

Tesla's more recent filing to the Court of International Trade said the levies were "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion." The suit also names the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, as a defendant.

In addition, Bloomberg reported that TikTok owner Bytedance has asked a federal judge to stop President Trump from enforcing a ban that would remove the viral video-sharing network from US app stores this weekend.

Bytedance is seeking a temporary block on the ban as it continues to pursue approvals from the Trump administration for a sale of its US operations to Oracle and Walmart.

However, that deal may already be on track for derailment.

Bloomberg noted that ByteDance's request uses many of the same arguments that enabled a group of WeChat users to win a preliminary injunction last weekend against a similar ban.

Fighting back
The rising number of lawsuits reflects growing discontent over efforts by the Trump administration to take a hard line against China, particularly in the technology and telecom realm.

Indeed, US opposition to the use of telecom equipment from China-based vendors Huawei and ZTE in 5G networks around the world has been well documented.

US sanctions have also been imposed against Huawei: The third and most severe round of US sanctions started on September 15, denying Huawei access to any components made with US technology.


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


As the latest lawsuits show, not all companies are prepared to accept Trump's diktats on which components they are able to use.

Tesla, for example, wants the court to declare two batches of Trump administration tariffs to be void, and refund Tesla the tariffs it paid with interest.

The specific tariffs at issue are known as List 3 and List 4. List 3 went into effect in 2018 and currently places 25% duties on $200 billion of imported goods from China. List 4 went into effect in 2019 and currently consists of a 7.5% tariff on $120 billion of Chinese imports.

In its filing, Tesla argued that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) imposition of List 3 and List 4 duties "was arbitrary and capricious because USTR did not provide meaningful opportunity to comment, failed to consider relevant factors when making its decision, and failed to draw a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made."

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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