China says US ‘suppressing’ TikTok after ban ultimatum

This photo illustration shows the TikTok logo over an image of the American flag in Washington, DC on March 16, 2023. —AFP

Beijing: China emphasized. United States To prevent “unreasonable suppression”. TikTok On Thursday, Washington gave the popular video-sharing app an ultimatum to split from its Chinese owners or face a nationwide ban.

It comes as Britain announced a security ban on the video app on government devices, in line with action by Washington and Brussels.

The UK joins the US and EU in taking an increasingly strong stance towards the platform, which is owned by Chinese firm Bitus, citing concerns that user data could be used or misused by Chinese authorities. can

The White House reported on Wednesday that the app has been told it will be banned in the US if it remains owned by the Beijing-based tech firm.

Tik Tok spokesperson said AFP that “demands for embargo or divestment are unnecessary,” insisting that “the best way to address national security concerns is transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems.”

Beijing also hit back against the ultimatum, urging Washington to “stop unreasonably suppressing” TikTok.

“The United States has so far failed to provide evidence that TikTok poses a threat to US national security,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing.

“Data security issues should not be used as a tool for some countries to enhance the perception of national security, abuse state power and unjustifiably suppress the institutions of other countries,” he added.

‘Good Cyber ​​Hygiene’

The White House welcomed a bill introduced in the US Senate last week that would allow President Joe Biden to ban TikTok because the app poses threats to Americans’ sensitive data and national security.

The bill’s introduction and quick White House support accelerated political momentum against TikTok, which is also the target of a separate piece of legislation in the US House of Representatives.

Getting tough on China is an unusual issue with potential for bipartisan support in both the Republican-controlled House and Senate, where Biden’s Democratic Party holds a majority.

In London, the UK government’s phone ban, with “immediate effect”, follows an expert assessment of the risk third-party apps pose to sensitive data.

As a result, official devices will only be allowed to access apps on a pre-approved list, which does not include TikTok.

Announcing the move, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden told British lawmakers it was “precautionary” and “good cyber hygiene”.

But the ban on tech firm Huawei’s involvement in the rollout of Britain’s 5G network and several other blocks on Chinese investment in key infrastructure and firms are likely to anger Beijing.

A TikTok spokesperson said it was “disappointed” by the decision and that such restrictions were “based on fundamental misunderstandings and driven by broader geopolitics”.

The company should be “judged on the facts and treated equally with its competitors,” the spokesperson added.

Western sanctions

TikTok claims to have more than a billion users worldwide, including more than 100 million in the United States, where it has become a cultural force, especially among young people.

According to market tracker Insider Intelligence, users spend more time on TikTok than they spend on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and it’s closing in on streaming titan Netflix.

Activists say the ban would attack free speech and prevent the export of American culture and values ​​to TikTok users around the world.

In January, US government workers were banned from installing TikTok on government-issued devices.

Government employees in the European Union and Canada are also barred from downloading the app to their work devices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US government’s ultimatum to TikTok came from an interagency board charged with assessing national security threats posed by foreign investment.

TikTok has consistently denied sharing data with Chinese authorities and has said it has been working with US authorities for more than two years to address national security concerns.

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