China says the TikTok ban reflects US insecurity

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. government’s ban on the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok exposes Washington’s own insecurities and is an abuse of state power, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

The US government “has overloaded the concept of national security and abused state power to suppress other countries’ companies,” Mao Ning said at a daily briefing. “How insecure can the United States, the world’s foremost superpower, be to fear a young person’s favorite app to such an extent?”

The White House is giving all federal agencies, in guidance issued Monday, 30 days to wipe out TikTok all public entities. The White House already disallowed TikTok on its devices.

TikTok is used by two-thirds of American teenagers, but there are concerns in Washington that China could use its legal and regulatory powers to obtain private user data or try to push misinformation or narratives that favor China.

Congress and more than half of US states has so far banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices.

Some have also moved to apply the ban to any app or website owned by ByteDance Ltd., the private Chinese company that owns TikTok and moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.

China has long blocked a long list of foreign social media platforms and messaging apps, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Washington and Beijing are at odds over a myriad of issues, including trade, computer chips and other technology, national security and Taiwan, along with the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States and its downing earlier this month.

On Monday, Canada announced it joined the US in banning TikTok from all public mobile devices.

“I suspect that when the government takes the significant step of telling all federal employees that they can no longer use TikTok on their work phones, many Canadians from businesses to individuals will reflect on the security of their own data and perhaps make choices,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters after the announcement.

The president of the Canadian Treasury Board, Mona Fortier, said the Chief Information Officer of Canada had determined that TikTok “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

“On a mobile device, TikTok’s data collection methods provide significant access to the content of the phone,” Fortier said.

The app will be removed from Canadian government-issued phones on Tuesday.

The European Union’s executive branch said last week that it has temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cyber security measure.

TikTok has questioned the bans, saying it has not been given a chance to answer questions and that governments are cutting themselves off from a platform loved by millions.

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