In a rare move for a Hollywood star, Ashton Kutcher has issued a warning about China, saying Beijing could use TikTok to influence the minds of Americans when it comes to issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Ashton Kutcher made the comments during a recent appearance on “American Optimist,” the YouTube channel run by entrepreneur and investor Joe Lonsdale.
“If I’m China and I want to create a problem in that area of the world, specifically a naval problem in that area of the world, in the South China Sea, I would probably want to utilize TikTok in order to influence the minds of Americans in a anti-U.S. propaganda, anti-Taiwanese propaganda effort in order to make any kind of war from the United States extraordinarily unpopular,” Kutcher said.
TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance. Last year, then-President Donald Trump sought to ban the social media app unless it was acquired by an American company. But President Joe Biden has taken a lenient attitude toward China and revoked Trump’s proposed ban.
“My sense as a fervent American is that it’s getting extraordinarily dangerous for not just individuals but for the country at large,” Kutcher added.
Hollywood stars are under increasing pressure to remain silent about China’s growing sphere of influence and human rights abuses. They are also feeling pressure to avoid saying anything that might upset the country’s Communist dictatorship.
Actor John Cena recently apologized for saying that Taiwan is a country during the recent press tour for the movie Fast & Furious 9. Actress Bette Midler deleted a tweet in which she blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and demanded that Beijing pay “reparations” for the devastation it has caused countries around the world.
The Walt Disney Co. reportedly pressured an American movie magazine to remove comments critical of China made by Nomadland director Chloe Zhao.
China became the world’s largest movie market last year, surpassing the U.S. for the first time.