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Taiwan Probes TikTok For ‘Illegal Commercial’ Activity

Taiwan’s government has opened an investigation into Chinese social media platform TikTok amid suspicion it illegally runs a subsidiary on the island

A former Bytedance executive claims the Chinese Communist Party accessed data of Hong Kong protesters, as well as US user data.
A former Bytedance executive claims the Chinese Communist Party accessed data of Hong Kong protesters, as well as US user data. File image: Reuters.


Taiwan’s government has opened an investigation into China’s TikTok on suspicion of illegally running a subsidiary on the island.

TikTok was suspected of “illegal commercial operations” in Taiwan, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which sets its China policy, said on Sunday.

“In recent years, the mainland side has used short-video platforms like TikTok to carry out cognitive operations and infiltration against other countries, and there is a high risk the Chinese government is collecting users’ personal information,” it added.


Also on AF: US Lawmakers Announce Bill to Ban China’s TikTok ‘For Good’


TikTok, which is not widely used in Taiwan, has come under pressure mostly in the United States on concerns about China getting access to users’ personal data, which the company denies.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper reported that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, had set up a subsidiary on the island to tout for business, contravening Taiwanese law that Chinese social media platforms are not allowed to have commercial operations on the island.

The Mainland Affairs Council, responding to that report, said the Cabinet’s working group had discovered that there was indeed a suspected breach of the law, and legal authorities were investigating.


TikTok Denies Allegations

TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, said “recent reports” suggesting it has set up a subsidiary in Taiwan were incorrect.

“The company has not established any legal entities in Taiwan,” it said in an emailed statement.

Taiwan prohibits a wide range of Chinese business operations on the island from social media platforms to its highly valued chip manufacturing industry.

Taiwan has already banned government departments from using Chinese apps such as TikTok, the council said.

Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta Platforms, are the most widely used social media platforms in Taiwan.

TikTok trailed its peers in Taiwan but is becoming increasingly popular among the young people, market research companies say.

Taiwan has long complained that China uses social media to spread disinformation on the island that Beijing claims as its own territory.


  • Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon



Read more:


TikTok App Could Control US Users’ Devices, FBI Chief Says


TikTok Doubles Ad Revenue As Western Platforms Decline – NYT


TikTok Owner Bytedance Makes New Share Buyback Offer to Staff



Alfie Habershon

Alfie is a Reporter at Asia Financial. He previously lived in Mumbai reporting on India's economy and healthcare for data journalism initiative IndiaSpend, as well as having worked for London based Tortoise Media.


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