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Chinese Embassy Reportedly Lobbied Directly Against TikTok Bill On Capitol Hill

According to Politico, the Chinese embassy held a closed-door meeting with Congressional staff to lobby against a bill that would force a sale or ban of TikTok.

Chinese embassy officials reportedly reached out to set up the meeting shortly after the House of Representatives voted decisively in favor of a bill to protect Americans from regulatory applications by foreign adversaries, but first When contacted, he did not specifically mention TikTok. according to Politico granted several Congressional staff members anonymity to speak freely. In a phone call with Capitol Hill officials, embassy officials reportedly said the Chinese ambassador wanted to discuss the bill. (Related: Former TikTok employee claims US executive was ‘fully complicit’ in providing ‘US data’ to China)

The bill, which would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell its platform or otherwise ban the popular social media app in the U.S., passed the House by a decisive margin in March. It has since stalled in the Senate.

TikTok has repeatedly denied any ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but a former senior ByteDance employee has revealed that CCP members within the company had access to “super user” credentials and data on U.S. users. It claims to have a “door channel.” The app often promotes content to users that aligns with the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. according to Recent research by the Network Infection Research Institute and Rutgers University.

“For the first time, Chinese diplomats are showing favor to the United States,” Michael Sobolik, a senior fellow at the U.S. Foreign Policy Council who specializes in Indo-Pacific studies, told Politico. “By lobbying Congressional staff to protect the relationship between TikTok and ByteDance, [People’s Republic of China] Officials are revealing how valuable TikTok is to the Chinese Communist Party. Losing control of the app would disable the Chinese government’s most powerful weapon against Americans. ”

During the meeting, Chinese embassy officials generally downplayed national security concerns surrounding TikTok and suggested that a forced sale from ByteDance would harm the company’s American investors, according to Politico. , repeatedly stated that not all members of the company’s board of directors are Chinese nationals. . However, embassy officials reportedly consider TikTok a Chinese company, which is at odds with the company’s efforts to distance itself from China.

TikTok told Politico that the anonymous source’s report “failed the smell test” and that the reported meetings “are news.” [the company]”

However, according to Politico, the Chinese embassy did not deny that such a meeting had taken place, saying, “We want to convey the truth about the TikTok issue to people from all walks of life in the United States.”

According to Politico, an anonymous Congressional staffer also pointed out that the Chinese embassy has been mobilized in the past to counter U.S. policies targeting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, but Huawei Opponents say they believe it poses a serious national security risk.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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