China: US ‘spreads misinformation’ with TikTok ban

China on Thursday accused the United States of spreading disinformation and cracking down on TikTok following reports that the Biden administration was urge Chinese owners to sell their shares in the popular video sharing app.

The US has yet to provide evidence that TikTok threatens national security and is using data security as a pretext to abuse its power to crack down on foreign companies, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily news conference.

“The United States should stop spreading misinformation about data security, stop suppressing relevant companies, and provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses to invest and operates in the US,” said Wang.

TikTok was fired on Wednesday of a reported in the Wall Street Journal said the Foreign Investment Commission in the United States, a division of the Treasury Department, is threatening a US ban on the app unless its owner, ByteDance Ltd. based in Beijing, divested.

TikTok spokesman Maureen Shanahan said: “If protecting national security is the goal, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: The change of ownership will not impose any new restrictions on the company. with data flow or access”.

Shanahan says TikTok has responded to concerns through “transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. users’ data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, auditing, and verification.”

The Journal report cited anonymous “people familiar with the matter”. The Treasury Department and the White House National Security Council declined to comment.

At the end of February, the White House gave all federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from all government devices. Several agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, have had restrictions. The White House has disallowed TikTok on its device.

Congress passed the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” in December as part of a sweeping government funding package. The law allows TikTok to be used in certain circumstances, including for research, national security, and law enforcement purposes.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have moved forward with legislation that would give the Biden administration more power to crack down on TikTok.

TikTok is still extremely popular and used by two-thirds of teenagers in the United States. However, there are growing concerns that Beijing could gain control of the US user data the app has obtained and promote pro-Beijing stories and propaganda on the app.

China has long been concerned about the influence of communication and social media apps abroad, and banned most of the most popular, including Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube — and TikTok.

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