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Top US Republican Senator Backs Forced Sale of TikTok

Republican leader in the Senate backs push for China’s Bytedance to divest TikTok, which he said was a threat to American children

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate (Reuters).


Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, called on Monday for a law to force China’s Bytedance to divest TikTok.

TikTok is used by about 170 million Americans, but McConnell described the short-video app as “an enormous threat” to children in the US, because of factors linked to its Chinese ownership.

“Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established constitutional precedent,” McConnell said, adding “it would begin to turn back the tide of an enormous threat to America’s children.”


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“America’s greatest strategic rival is threatening our security right here on US soil in tens of millions of American homes,” the senator said.

The US House of Representatives voted 352-65 on March 13 to give TikTok’s ByteDance about six months to divest the US assets of the short-video app, or face a ban.


Senate to discuss how to proceed

Senate commerce committee chair Maria Cantwell told reporters on Monday she will be meeting with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner and “then we will have a game plan on how to proceed.”

On Friday, Schumer said senators can make progress “on a path forward on TikTok legislation.”

Schumer’s statement did not outline a specific position on TikTok but said “in the weeks and months ahead, we have the opportunity to make progress on bipartisan bills” including a measure on TikTok.

“The key point here is getting a tool that can be used to stop foreign actors from doing deleterious things that might harm US citizens,” Cantwell said earlier.

The fate of TikTok has become a major issue in Washington where lawmakers have been flooded with calls from users who oppose the legislation.

“A ban on TikTok would violate the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans,” TikTok said on Friday.

Many lawmakers and the Biden administration say TikTok poses national security risks because China could compel TikTok to share American user data, while TikTok insists it has never shared US data and never would.

TikTok says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on the effort to protect US data and house it in the US.


  • Reuters with additional editing 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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