China has hit out at US politicians after Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that Congress would move to ban TikTok, despite testimony given last week by the Chinese social media app’s CEO to House lawmakers.
McCarthy posted a tweet on Sunday that accused TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew – who spent five hours answering questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee last Thursday about security threats, data privacy, misinformation and safety for minors – of dishonesty.
“It’s very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can’t be honest and admit what we already know to be true — China has access to TikTok user data,” he said. “The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.”
But China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the US had made a presumption of guilt against TikTok without presenting any evidence that the hugely popular app threatens its national security.
“The US should respect fair competition, and stop suppressing foreign companies,” Mao said, in answer to a question about US lawmakers pushing forward with the bill, which would prohibit the downloading and use of TikTok in the US.
China’s Industrial Profits Plunge 23% on Weak Global Demand
Criticism of Congress hearing
McCarthy said last week there was “bipartisan concern” among lawmakers about the social media app’s security risks and that things would not have reached this point if ByteDance sold its stake in TikTok to a US-based company.
Many state governments and the White House have imposed TikTok bans on government devices in recent months due to concerns about the app’s data tracking capabilities.
However, some observers felt that the lawmakers who grilled Chew, often talked over him and didn’t really listen to his answers, as they were more interested in “asserting an unyielding position against TikTok for all to see”.
“Capitol Hill’s tech hearings are typically sensationalist in nature, but this one was even more so: It combined the fear-mongering over social media with fear-mongering about China,” a report run by Quartz said.
- Jim Pollard with Reuters
TikTok CEO to Tell US Lawmakers: ‘We’ve Never Shared Data’
TikTok Facing US Ban if Chinese Owners Don’t Sell Stakes
TikTok Row: China Says US Seeks to Curb its Right to Develop
US and Canada Order TikTok Cut From All Government Phones