Beijing’s TikTok Ban Criticism Rings Hollow Amid Its Own Online Censorship

Nicholas Burns, the US Ambassador to China, slammed Beijing’s criticism of a potential TikTok ban in the United States, calling it “supremely ironic” given the Chinese government’s strict censorship of online platforms within its borders. 

Burns made these remarks during an online seminar on Friday, a day after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would force the popular video-sharing app to separate from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, or face a nationwide ban.

China has vehemently opposed the bill, accusing US lawmakers of adopting a “bandit” mentality and unjustly suppressing foreign companies. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin accused the US of violating fair competition principles and international trade rules. 

However, American apps have long been barred in China due to their refusal to comply with the government’s data collection and content-sharing rules. Burns pointed out the hypocrisy in Beijing’s stance, highlighting that the Chinese government blocks numerous Western web platforms, including Google, Facebook, and Instagram, from operating within its borders.

“They won’t even let TikTok be available to 1.4 billion Chinese,” Burns stated, referring to Beijing’s tight control over the spread of information online and its practice of scrubbing social media content deemed politically sensitive.

While ByteDance operates a separate version of TikTok called Douyin within China, Western governments have raised concerns about the app’s soaring popularity, alleging that its Chinese ownership makes it subservient to Beijing — a claim TikTok denies.

The focus now shifts to the US Senate, where lawmakers are evaluating the legislation. The White House has indicated that President Joe Biden would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

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