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TikTok Prepares to Become Proxy Battle As US, China Face Risk of War

by News Desk
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  • Tensions between the US and China are on the rise.
  • The Chinese-owned TikTok CEO will head to Washington in March to face tough demands from politicians.
  • This showdown epitomizes everything the US fears from China.

When TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew showed up at the Capitol in March, he risked not only safety, but exacerbated tensions. Popular video app But broader geopolitics.

the United States is increasingly Loudly Concerned About China’s Hawkish Stance on Taiwan, and increasing its economic strength. A US Air Force general predicted that war could break out between the US and China as early as 2025, citing Taiwan. NBC NewsA Pentagon official told the paper that this did not represent the government’s view.

So when Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean, heads to Washington on March 23 to face scrutiny by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, more than just a fun app popular with American teens is at stake. It has been.

Shou Zi Chew and Vivian Kao attend the 2022 Met Gala

Shou Zi Chew and Vivian Kao attend the 2022 Met Gala.

Theo Wargo/WireImage

TikTok is the second most popular app among American teens. According to Pew’s 2022 data, found that 95% of teens surveyed use YouTube, followed by 67% using TikTok. Other popular apps include Instagram, Twitch, and Snapchat, but TikTok is the only non-US app on the list.

And that’s another source of tension: It’s a glimpse into an alternative future Internet not dominated by the US, and consequently US norms of freedom and security. some Huawei Prohibition of exports to other Chinese companiesSimply put, China’s success here feels like an attack on American values.

TikTok’s Big Problem: Its Ownership

As it stands, TikTok is ultimately owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. ByteDance is one of several internet giants to emerge from China over the past decade.

Unlike U.S. companies, Chinese tech companies are subject to greater scrutiny from President Xi Jinping’s regime. walked away From day-to-day business operations under government pressure.

The Chinese government, which invested in ByteDance’s domestic division in 2021, has since acquired so-called “golden shares” such as Alibaba and Tencent. This entitles you to certain privileges and boarding seats. reported by the Financial Times.

“Concerns about China’s influence through its parent company are hard to shake off,” Jamie McEwan, senior media analyst at Enders Analysis, told Insider.

Therefore, TikTok’s CEO must answer a security concern first raised by Donald Trump about whether the app sends Americans’ data back to China.

The company recognizes that its roots are a problem, offered a concession — like additional US surveillance — to try to circumvent sanctions or outright bans.

“As long as ByteDance is the owner, it will be difficult to convince politicians that Beijing’s administrators do not exercise excessive operational controls or have access to sensitive data.

In December, TikTok confirmed that its app was used by ByteDance staff in both the US and China. Access to personal dataWe collect information such as IP addresses of individuals, including journalists, to track their whereabouts and determine how they access inside information.

It’s a terrible endorsement for a company seeking to position itself as a guardian of user privacy, and speaks to the US’s fear of its complacent attitude to democratic freedoms. replied indignantlydefinitely grill.

“TikTok’s concern is whether bipartisan momentum can be sustained in Congress. is,” MacEwan said.

Chu needs to publicly convince U.S. lawmakers that TikTok and ByteDance can take steps to keep users safe, but his statements will almost certainly draw attention in China as well. prize. He doesn’t appear in his March just to legitimize the app and its underlying business. It’s a diplomatic act.

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