The battle also falls under US efforts to contain China's technological expansion, especially over AI, as it seeks to contain Beijing's attempts to surpass the West —not only in terms of cheap labour but also in the worlds of tech and finance.
Tensions between the two countries peaked last August after a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the world's biggest microchip producer.
The visit followed a series of restrictions imposed by the Biden administration on the export of advanced semiconductors and microchip manufacturing equipment to China, fuelled by concerns over China's use of advanced technologies to develop its military systems, including weapons of mass destruction.
China was quick to strike back.
In February, a Chinese spy balloon roamed American skies before being shot down by US aircraft.
Soon after, China's President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow just after the International Criminal Court accused Vladimir Putin of war crimes, in a nod to the Russian president's legitimacy.
The visit was seen as a move by Xi to challenge the US-led world order established since the end of World War II.
Previously, the face-off between China and the West looked to have peaked when the United States and Canada banned Huawei and ZTE on grounds of the two firms' alleged association with the Chinese government.
At the time, Europe was still not ready to give up its addiction to Chinese products, but that changed when China sided with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, which prompted the German and Dutch to consider banning Huawei from their 5G networks.
Washington is further tightening the noose around the necks of Chinese firms which are considering a listing on American stock exchanges, requiring full disclosures of financial information and audits.
As a result, five big Chinese companies — China Life Insurance, PetroChina, China Petroleum, Aluminum Company of China, and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical — delisted from the NYSE by order of Beijing.
The decision was motivated by China's unwillingness to comply with US regulations on audit transparency.
The TikTok conflict is, ostensibly, a technological battle with a hidden political-military layer. It is a clash of cultures and freedoms; a struggle for power between two giants, each of whom is seeking to control the world order.
The clash is not the first of its kind. But it still represents a major turn of events in US-Chinese relations that are increasingly motivated by mutual distrust and fear.