Chinese Embassy’s Reported TikTok Lobbying Triggers Bipartisan Outrage

Lawmakers say that the Chinese embassy’s moves show that the CCP considers TikTok a ’strategic asset’ for influence operations in America.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed their outrage at the Chinese embassy’s reported lobbying against a TikTok bill. They said the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) actions showed the importance of forcing a sale of TikTok to free the social media platform from communist control.

Politico reported on Wednesday that the Chinese embassy met with congressional staffers to lobby against a bill that would require TikTok’s divestiture from its Chinese parent company ByteDance. The bill has passed the House with bipartisan support and is currently pending in the Senate.

To Senate Intelligence Committee leaders, the Chinese embassy’s moves show that the CCP considers TikTok a “strategic asset” for influence operations in America.

“I’ve warned time and time again that companies in China are beholden—by law—to the Chinese Communist Party,” committee chair Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told The Epoch Times in a statement.

“At this point, it comes as no surprise that Xi Jinping is heavily invested in preventing a TikTok divestiture, which would put American data and TiKTok’s potential for malign influence out of the hands of the CCP,” he added.

Vice-chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also told The Epoch Times in a statement, “The lobbying efforts of the Chinese Embassy reveal their true agenda, protecting TikTok as a strategic asset for Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party to influence the United States.”

Two months ago, Mr. Rubio introduced a bill to sanction any social media companies beholden to or owned by foreign adversaries.

Meanwhile, the bill is gaining momentum with the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel with jurisdiction.

On Wednesday evening, chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), whose support is essential for the bill to progress in the upper legislative chamber, issued a statement in support of the TikTok bill. She said she supported the updated Senate version extending the divestment period from six months to a year to ensure the buyer has enough time to complete the deal. The House is expected to vote on the amended version on Saturday.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the outgoing chair of the Select Committee on China, introduced the House TikTok bill that passed last month with wide bipartisan support. He said the Chinese embassy’s lobbying indicates the importance of a TikTok divestiture.

“These reports are no surprise. The Chinese Communist Party has a vested interest in keeping TikTok under its current ownership structure in the United States so it can influence and spy on Americans,” Mr. Gallagher said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “The more the CCP digs in to retain control of the platform, the more it demonstrates exactly why we must divest TikTok from the CCP.”

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) on the Foreign Relations Committee agrees.

“The uncomfortable truth is that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to spy on us every chance they get,” he told The Epoch Times. “Xi Jinping has all the tools to force ByteDance to hand over the data they collect through TikTok and use the data to target Americans. It’s no surprise that China would be lobbying Senate Democrats to kill our legislation so they can maintain access to the data of everyday Americans.”

Several senators, including Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and John Fetterman (D-Pa.), have told The Epoch Times that the Chinese embassy has not approached their offices.

Mr. Fetterman added, “I sure hope that they don’t think that they’re going to waste their time in my office.”

Mr. Hawley, a vocal critic of TikTok, demanded transparency: “I’m probably not the right target, but I’d love to know who they’re meeting with. This should all be public. Let’s find out who it is. It’s really unbelievable.”

Stacy Robinson contributed to this report.


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