US secretary of state Mike Pompeo
NEW DELHI: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said late on Monday that the United States is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
“I don’t want to get out in front of the President (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pompeo said in an interview with an American news channel.
US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience and has emphasized its independence from China.
Pompeo’s remarks also come amid increasing US-China tensions over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s actions in Hong Kong and a nearly two-year trade war.
Meanwhile, the short-video sharing platform said it will exit the Hong Kong market within days as other technology companies including Facebook Inc have suspended processing government requests for user data in the region.
TikTok owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.
The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.
Last week India banned 59, mostly Chinese, mobile apps including TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat, in its strongest move yet targeting China in the online space since the border crisis erupted last month. The move has potentially dented big Chinese businesses’ expansion plans for the South Asian market.
India-China standoff: Complete coverage
Chinese companies’ existing and planned investments in India stand at more than $26 billion, research group Brookings said in March.
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