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TikTok ban: China attacks ‘bandit logic’ of House vote

China attacks 'bandit logic' of House vote
TikTok content creators held a small protest outside the White House after the bill was passed in the House of Representatives. Photo: Getty Images
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China accuses TikTok of “unjustly” acting like a “bandit” in response to a measure that is currently in Congress that might eventually result in the app being blocked in the US.

The parent business of TikTok would have six months to leave the company or risk having the app banned under the House of Representatives plan.

Although there is still a long way to go in the Senate, President Joe Biden has stated that he will sign it should it pass Congress.

In order to safeguard its interests, Beijing has promised to take “necessary measures”.

ByteDance, a Beijing-based business with Cayman Islands registration, is the owner of TikTok.

US lawmakers have expressed concern about the app, saying the data of Americans potentially in Chinese hands makes it a national security risk. TikTok’s owners have rejected those accusations.

In a rare show of bipartisanship on Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill, with 352 representatives voting in favour of the proposed law and 65 against.

At a news conference in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the vote on the bill “runs contrary to the principles of fair competition and justice”.

“When someone sees a good thing another person has and tries to take it for themselves, this is entirely the logic of a bandit,” Mr Wang added.

Another Chinese official, commerce ministry spokesperson He Yadong, said that China would “take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests”.

Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he was putting together a team of investors to make a bid to buy TikTok. “It’s a great business,” he told CNBC.

Whether he gets the chance will depend on the bill passing Congress and it is unclear whether it has enough support in the Senate.

Republican Donald Trump has said he is now opposed, having previously backed a ban.

After its passage in the House, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said that the bill would take “billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses”.

“It will also put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk and it will take away your TikTok,” Mr Chew said in a video posted on TikTok and on X, formerly known as Twitter.

On Wednesday, several TikTok “creators” told the BBC they feared for their livelihood and businesses if the bill becomes a law.

“I buy items from small businesses and showcase them on my platform – I enhance them,” said Ophelia Nichols, an Alabama-based creator with more than 12m followers on the platform. “It’s the small businesses that will suffer…you have to worry about that.”

TikTok’s Mr Chew also urged its users to speak out against the vote and contact their lawmakers – an effort that has already seen the offices of some members of Congress inundated with calls from angry constituents.

The approach is one that has irked US lawmakers. One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Texas Republican Chip Roy, told the BBC in an interview that he believes TikTok “shot itself in the foot” with the lobbying effort.

“[That is] demonstrating that they want to use the power of their technology to persuade people and inform them through their viewpoint,” he said, adding that the effort amounted to “the propaganda angle that we’re seeing out of TikTok.”

TikTok is banned in China along with other social media platforms.

Instead, Chinese users use a similar app, Douyin, which is only available in China and subject to monitoring and censorship by the government.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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