China criticizes possible U.S. plan to force TikTok sale

The move ‘would seriously damage investors from multiple countries’ and hurt ‘confidence to invest in the United States,’ said a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce

Tik Tok
A person holds a smartphone as Tik Tok logo is displayed behind in this picture illustration taken November 7, 2019.Dado Ruvic (REUTERS)

China’s government said Thursday it would oppose possible U.S. plans to force TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the short-video service as a security risk and warned such a move would hurt investor confidence in the United States.

Governments are worried TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, might give browsing history or other data about users to China’s government or promote propaganda and disinformation. The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. authorities were considering banning TikTok ban if ByteDance doesn’t sell the company.

“If the news is true, China will resolutely oppose it,” said a Ministry of Commerce spokeswoman, Shu Jueting. She gave no indication what Beijing might do.

A forced sale “would seriously damage investors from multiple countries including China” and hurt “confidence to invest in the United States,” Shu said.

TikTok is one focus of conflicts between China and other governments over technology and security that are disrupting processor chip, smartphone and other industries.

Shu’s comments on Thursday came hours before the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, is due to make a high-profile appearance Thursday before a U.S. Congressional committee to make the case for why the hugely popular video-sharing app shouldn’t be banned. American lawmakers have called for a ban on TikTok over national security concerns, alleging that the app could be used to spy on U.S. users. Chew is expected to tell the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce that TikTok prioritizes the safety of its young users and deny allegations that the app is a national security risk, according to his prepared remarks released ahead of the hearing.

The United States, Britain and New Zealand’s parliament have banned use of TikTok on government-issued phones. India has banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the WeChat message service, on security and privacy grounds.

On Thursday, the Norwegian parliament followed suit and banned Tiktok and messaging app Telegram on devices with access to the assembly’s systems with immediate effect, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.

Telegram is a messaging app founded by Russian-born brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov. The loosely moderated platform is broadly popular in Ukraine, Eastern Europe and used by many conservatives in the United States.

“The decision is in line with the recommendation” of the Norwegian National Security Authority,” parliamentary speaker Masud Gharahkhani said, adding the apps should be removed “as quickly as possible.”

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