China said it would fiercely challenge any compelled sale of TikTok in its first response to Biden administration calls for the popular video app to divest itself from its Beijing-based parent-company ByteDance or else be banned in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.
China’s Commerce Ministry stated Thursday that such a deal might hurt the faith of global and Chinese investors in the U.S. The ministry added that any sale or derivative of TikTok would involve technology transfer problems that would require handling based on Chinese law and must be authorized by the Chinese government, according to the WSJ.
“China will firmly oppose it,” Shu Jueting, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told the WSJ.
These remarks were Beijing’s first official response to the Biden administration’s threat to ban TikTok if ByteDance’s owners did not sell their shares. They precede the TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before a House committee that is anticipated to question him about the app’s national security threats.
Capitol Hill and the Biden administration have criticized the app as threatening national security due to its Chinese ownership, arguing that their law could compel ByteDance to hand over American user data to Beijing or adjust its algorithms to influence the content Americans consume on the platform. TikTok stated it has never received any such request and would refuse one if it ever took place, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: FBI, DOJ Investigating TikTok Parent Over Surveillance Of Americans: REPORT)
Staff at ByteDance reportedly used TikTok data last year to surveil journalists who were reporting on the company, gaining access to their IP addresses to track whether they had been in proximity to ByteDance employees, according to Forbes. The company acknowledged this occurred and criticized the employees responsible for it.
Chew has argued that Project Texas, a $1.5 billion investment plan the company is working on to protect TikTok’s American user data from the Chinese government will solve this issue. However, a former risk manager for the platform who would like to remain anonymous has alleged that the project will not be sufficient, according to The Washington Post.
Chew is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce committee later on Thursday.
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