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TikTok Row: China Says US Seeks to Curb its Right to Develop

Asked about new US bill to ban some foreign tech such as TikTok, China’s spokeswoman said the US was trying to deprive it of developmental rights and perpetuate its own hegemony

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.


China’s Foreign Ministry made a dramatic claim on Monday, saying the US is trying to deprive it of developmental rights and perpetuate its own hegemony.

Spokesperson Mao Ning made the remark in response to a question on TikTok being potentially a target in an upcoming US bill banning some foreign technology.

Two US senators plan to introduce legislation this week aimed at letting the government “ban or prohibit” foreign technology products such as Chinese-owned TikTok, Senator Mark Warner said on Sunday.


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Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said TikTok would be “one of the potentials” for review under the bill. The Democratic senator made the comments on Fox News Sunday.

The bill comes at a time when TikTok is under intensifying pressure over concerns that data about US users could end up in the hands of the Chinese government.

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to give President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok, in what would be the most far-reaching US restriction on any social media app.

The White House last week gave government agencies 30 days to ensure that TikTok is not on any federal devices and systems. More than 30 US states, Canada and European Union policy institutions have also banned TikTok from being loaded onto state-owned devices.

Warner said he was concerned that TikTok “can be a propaganda tool” based on the types of videos it sends to users.

He said the bill he plans to introduce “would say, in terms of foreign technology coming into America, we’ve got to have a systematic approach to make sure we can ban or prohibit it when necessary.”

He said he planned to introduce the legislation this week with Republican Senator John Thune. A spokesperson for Warner said they expected to make an announcement on Tuesday.


TikTok linked to UK school protests

Meanwhile, a British expert on the popular Chinese short-video app has revealed insights on TikTok’s addictive algorithm, which was blamed for causing a flurry of school protests in the United Kingdom recently.

Chris Stokel-Walker, a journalist and author of TikTok Boom, is an expert on the unique algorithm powering the app, which he calls TikTok’s “secret sauce” and responsible for the “viral spread” of some videos it posts, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

TikTok analyses content that viewers are interested in via monitoring how long a person spends watching a video clip, it said, giving an example of a protest at Rainford High School in St Helens, Merseyside, two weeks ago when a large number of boys wore skirts over their school uniform, in a show of solidarity in support of female pupils who were embroiled in a row over the length of their skirts.

It allegedly spurred a flurry of videos about copycat protests about contentious issues at other schools because TikTok is the app most used by teenagers, the report said, with Stokel-Walker noting that viewers get flooded with similar content and that TikTok may have spurred events in a manner similar to how ‘Twitter helped spark anti-government rebellions in the early 2010s known as the Arab Spring’.


  • Reuters with additional editing and reporting by Jim Pollard





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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