US Lawmakers View TikTok as China’s Instrument, Despite Its Efforts to Distance Itself from Beijing

TikTok (Credits: Times of India)

In a move that echoes rising tensions between the United States and China, some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for TikTok, the popular social media platform owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, to either sell its subsidiary or face a nationwide ban.

The House approved a bill to enforce this measure, reflecting concerns among lawmakers about potential data security risks and Beijing’s influence.

Although TikTok is often associated with China, the company has maintained a deliberate distance from its homeland. It was initially designed for non-Chinese markets and is unavailable in mainland China.

US Lawmakers (Credits: Newsweek)

Amid growing data security concerns in the U.S., TikTok has assured lawmakers that data collected from U.S. users remains in the country and is inaccessible to ByteDance employees in Beijing.

ByteDance’s strategy mirrors that of many Chinese companies with global aspirations: downplaying their Chinese origins to win trust in Western markets.

However, the House bill, passed by a significant margin, threatens TikTok’s future and highlights the challenges private Chinese companies face in engaging with Western markets amid deteriorating China-U.S. relations.

Chinese tech companies are caught between Beijing’s control and Western suspicion, operating under suspicion due to China’s laws requiring data sharing with the government.

ByteDance’s founder, Zhang Yiming, has aligned with the Chinese Communist Party’s directives to ensure survival in China, apologizing publicly for deviations from socialist values and pledging stricter censorship.

The House bill aims to sever ties between apps and companies controlled by foreign adversaries like China. Representative Mike Gallagher, the bill’s sponsor, emphasized the need for TikTok to dissociate from the Chinese Communist Party to continue operating in the U.S.

US Law Makers (Credits: CNN)

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, has defended the company’s independence from Chinese government influence but acknowledged a “trust deficit” due to its Chinese origins.

Despite efforts to distance itself from China, the lack of trust persists, complicating TikTok’s survival even with a complete divestiture from ByteDance.

As TikTok fights against the potential ban, it has resorted to lobbying efforts and mobilizing its U.S. user base to oppose the legislation. Former President Donald Trump, initially critical of TikTok, has reversed his stance, but the bill’s passage in the House signals ongoing challenges for the platform.

If the bill becomes law, TikTok may pursue legal recourse to challenge the ban, showcasing a quintessential American response to regulatory threats.

However, uncertainties, including China’s restrictions on technology exports, complicate TikTok’s path forward in the United States.

Hi there, I am Elizabeth. I am an enthusiastic social worker and dancer. I recently graduated and have a huge interest in digital marketing and content writing. I love listening to music, and watching series and dramas; especially k-drama and kpop. I enjoy learning new languages as well.