Report: China Covertly Lobbying Congress on TikTok

CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 20: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok offic
Mario Tama/Getty Images, AP Photo/Andy Wong

The Chinese Communist Party is secretly lobbying the U.S. Congress regarding TikTok, according to Capitol Hill staffers familiar with the situation.

The Chinese Embassy has been holding meetings with congressional employees to lobby against the legislation that would force a sale of TikTok or else ban the Chinese app in the United States, two Capitol Hill staffers familiar with China’s lobbying efforts told Politico.

TikTok Ban

TikTok Ban (Anadolu /Getty)

Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during an interview at the TikTok office in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty)

Chinese diplomats reportedly met with Capitol Hill offices to lobby on behalf of TikTok after the legislation was overwhelmingly passed in March by the U.S. House of Representatives, making its way over to the Senate for review.

Congressional staffers, one of whom worked for the House and the other for the Senate, told Politico that the Chinese Embassy did not initially mention TikTok when it sought out meetings on Capitol Hill.

The staffers spoke to the outlet on anonymity, saying they are not allowed to reveal this information to the public.

As Breitbart News reported, the bill that may end up on the president’s desk seeks to ban TikTok unless its parent company, the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, sells the app within six months.

This is due to national security concerns, among other concerns involving U.S. users and data, given that ByteDance is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.

Notably, China’s reported attempt to lobby Congress comes after TikTok purchased $2.1 million in television advertising in the battleground states in an apparent attempt to meddle in U.S. elections.

While TikTok has repeatedly insisted that it severed most of its connections with ByteDance and that U.S. user data will not end up in the hands of China — claiming it has isolated such data from Beijing-based executives at ByteDance — former employees have said otherwise.

As Breitbart News reported, 11 former TikTok employees interviewed by Fortune said the app has continued working with ByteDance while it tells the public a different story.

In one example, a man who worked as a senior data scientist at TikTok said that around the time the app told the public it would start storing U.S. data only in the United States and make it so that only U.S. employees had access to it, he was told he would start reporting to a Seattle-based executive.

The only problem was that this American TikTok executive did not exist, except for on paper, and the former data scientist was told to continue working with the Chinese ByteDance executive, he said.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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