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Chinese Warning to US: TikTok Actions Could Backfire

China Warns US About TikTok Blowback

In anticipation of a crucial vote within the House of Representatives regarding a bill aimed at potentially banning the popular short video-sharing platform TikTok unless it disassociates from its Chinese parent company, China has issued a stern warning, suggesting repercussions for the United States.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticized the rationale behind the proposed bill, labeling it as “robbery logic.” He cautioned that such actions from Washington could project an image of prioritizing self-interest in legal matters—a sentiment that some analysts find ironic, given Beijing’s own stringent censorship measures.

The heart of the TikTok debate revolves around concerns regarding national security. Detractors argue that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, may be susceptible to sharing user data with the Chinese government.

The bill in question aims to compel TikTok to sever ties with ByteDance within six months, with the intention of mitigating the risks associated with potential data breaches or undue influence from the Chinese Communist Party on American users.

Chinese Warning to US: TikTok Actions Could Backfire

Chinese Warning to US: TikTok Actions Could Backfire (Credits: CNN)

China’s National Intelligence Law of 2017 mandates that all Chinese entities and individuals must comply with government requests for information. Against this backdrop, the bill seeks to address fears about the possible compromise of user data to Chinese authorities.

Outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., TikTok supporters gathered on March 13 to voice their opposition to the proposed ban. Wang, during a daily press briefing for the Chinese foreign ministry, condemned the bill passed by the House of Representatives, framing it as a departure from principles of fair competition and international trade rules.

He accused the U.S. of attempting to appropriate Chinese innovations for its own advantage, characterizing it as “robbery logic.”

Wang questioned whether the U.S. approach to the TikTok issue aligns with principles beneficial to the global community or merely serves American interests. He warned that resorting to hegemonic tactics when faced with fair competition disrupts normal business operations, undermines investor confidence, and disrupts global economic and trade order, ultimately leading to repercussions for the U.S. itself.

Sean King, an Asia scholar and senior vice president at New York-based consultancy Park Strategies, highlighted China’s own restrictions on foreign social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as he critiqued Beijing’s stance on the matter.

The bill passed the lower chamber with a significant majority and now awaits deliberation in the Senate. President Joe Biden has signaled his willingness to sign the bill into law should it pass both houses of Congress. White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre urged swift action from the Senate to address the matter.

In response to the House vote, TikTok CEO Shou Chew expressed concern, suggesting that the proposed legislation would consolidate power among a few social media giants, potentially harming creators and small businesses and jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.

With over 150 million active users in the U.S. and nearly 2 billion worldwide (excluding China), TikTok’s popularity has soared. However, it faces significant challenges due to mounting security concerns globally.

Countries like India have already implemented bans on TikTok over privacy and security issues, while the platform is restricted on government-issued devices in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

The House vote underscores growing apprehensions regarding national security risks associated with Chinese companies, reflecting broader geopolitical tensions between China and other nations.

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