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Wednesday July 17, 2024

TikTok boss to deny China ties to US lawmakers

By AFP
March 23, 2023

WASHINGTON: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will staunchly deny allegations by US lawmakers on Thursday that the hugely popular video-sharing app had ever, or ever would, share data with the Chinese government.

The pledge will be part of Chew´s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is intended to oppose calls, including from the White House, that the app should be banned in the United States as long as it remains a Chinese company.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to give Chew a rough grilling and Chew will face an uphill battle to sway the US lawmakers over their national security concerns. There are currently several pieces of legislation, including one bill backed by the White House, already paving the way for a ban of the app if TikTok fails to split from its parent company, Chinese firm ByteDance.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew will say, according to his prepared remarks made available by the House committee. “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, US user data with the Chinese government. Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made,” Chew will add in his opening statement on Thursday.

Chew´s remarks will list a long set of assurances and promote the company´s elaborate plan -- known as Project Texas -- to satisfy US national security concerns. According to that plan, the handling of US data will be ring-fenced into a separate division of the company, co-controlled with Oracle and under different management. The Singaporean CEO will tell the US lawmakers that TikTok has already spent $1.5 billion on Project Texas and hired 1,500 US-based staff to make it a reality.