US-China Relations Strained by TikTok Controversy
Lawmakers in the House hearing dealt a significant blow to the already strained U.S.-China relations as they grilled TikTok's chief executive over the app's connections to China.
Meanwhile, Beijing has vowed to resist any attempt by the U.S. to force the sale of the company by its Chinese owners. The hearing, which lasted over five hours, was marked by severe criticism of TikTok from both Democrats and Republicans, highlighting growing anxiety about Beijing's possible influence on the app. Tensions between the two nations are already high due to trade, Taiwan, technological advancements, and geopolitical rivalries.
Although TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew attempted to persuade lawmakers that the app was trustworthy, the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), called for banning the app altogether, which is owned by ByteDance Ltd. based in Beijing. Despite TikTok's claim that it is used by 150 million Americans, the bipartisan skepticism has further clouded the future of the platform.
Prior to the hearing, the Chinese Commerce Ministry's spokesperson announced its opposition to the Biden administration's call for the Chinese owners of TikTok to sell their shares or face a potential ban. U.S. lawmakers cited this statement as proof that the company is under Beijing's influence.
TikTok's recent challenges have placed it at the center of the strained relationship between the world's two most influential economic powers, which are currently in dispute over trade policies, surveillance, and technological advancements. As Washington increases its sanctions against Chinese companies, Beijing has also utilized regulatory enforcement and other pressure tactics against American businesses.