China claims US misinformation, TikTok suppression 2023

China accused the United States on Thursday of spreading disinformation and censoring TikTok in response to rumors that the Obama administration had demanded that the Chinese owners of the popular video-sharing application sell their shares.

Wang Wenbin, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters at a daily briefing that the U.S. had yet to provide evidence that TikTok poses a threat to its national security and was abusing data security as a pretext to crush foreign enterprises.

Wang stated, “The United States should cease disseminating false information regarding data security, cease repressing the relevant firm, and establish an open, fair, and nondiscriminatory environment for foreign enterprises to invest and operate in the United States.”

Wednesday, TikTok dismissed a Wall Street Journal story that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a division of the Treasury Department, was threatening a U.S. ban on the app unless its Beijing-based owners sold.

“If defending national security is the purpose, divestiture does not solve the problem: A change in ownership would not impose additional constraints on data flows or access,” said Maureen Shanahan, a spokesman for TikTok.

Shanahan stated that TikTok was already responding to concerns with “transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, together with comprehensive third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification.”

The Journal article quoted unidentified “people with knowledge of the situation.” The Treasury Department and the National Security Council of the White House declined to comment.

The White House told all federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all government devices by the end of February. Certain organizations, such as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, have already implemented limits. The White House does not currently permit TikTok on its devices.

In December, Congress enacted the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” as part of a comprehensive federal financing bill. The law does permit the use of TikTok in specific circumstances, including national security, law enforcement, and study.

In the meanwhile, both the House and Senate have been advancing legislation that would give the Biden administration additional authority to regulate TikTok.

Two-thirds of U.S. adolescents continue to use TikTok, which is incredibly popular. Yet there is growing worry that China may seize control of American user data gathered by the app and use it to promote pro-Beijing narratives and propaganda.

China has long been concerned about the effect of foreign social media and communication applications, and prohibits the majority of the most popular ones, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

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