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China says US ‘suppressing’ TikTok after ban ultimatum

China urged the United States to stop “unreasonably suppressing” TikTok on Thursday, after Washington gave the popular video-sharing app an ultimatum to part ways with its Chinese owners or face a nationwide ban. It came as the UK announced a security ban on the video app on government devices, in line with action by Washington and Brussels.

Britain joins the US and EU in taking an increasingly firm approach towards the platform, owned by the Chinese firm Bytedance, citing fears that user data could be used or abused by Chinese officials.

The White House was reported on Wednesday to have told the app that it will be banned in the United States if it continues to be owned by the Beijing-based tech firm. A TikTok spokesperson told AFP that “calls for a ban or divestment are unnecessary”, insisting that “the best path forward to addressing concerns about national security is transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems.”

Beijing also hit back against the ultimatum, urging Washington to “stop unreasonably suppressing” TikTok. “The US has so far failed to produce evidence that TikTok threatens US national security,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing.

“Data security issues should not be used as a tool for some countries to overstretch the concept of national security, abuse state power and unjustifiably suppress other countries´ enterprises,” he added.

The White House last week welcomed a bill introduced in the US Senate that would allow President Joe Biden to ban TikTok over risks the app poses to Americans´ sensitive data and national security.

The bill´s introduction and quick White House backing accelerated the political momentum against TikTok, which is also the target of a separate piece of legislation in the US House of Representatives. AFP

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