China accused the U.S. on Thursday of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok after reports that the Biden administration had called for the popular social media platform’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, Ltd., to sell its stakes in the app.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters that America has not presented evidence that TikTok threatens the country’s national security and was using data security as an excuse to abuse its power to suppress foreign companies.
“The U.S. should stop spreading disinformation about data security, stop suppressing the relevant company, and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses to invest and operate in the U.S.,” Wenbin said.
The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter,” reported that the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. was threatening a ban of the app unless ByteDance divested.
BIDEN ADMIN THREATENS BANS IF TIKTOK’S CHINESE OWNERS DON’T SELL STAKES
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin answers a question during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing on Aug. 8, 2022. (NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Treasury Department declined to comment on the matter.
Earlier this month, U.S. National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone warned about Tiktok’s data collection and algorithm and “the control of who has the algorithm.”
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan told FOX Business in an email.
The app for TikTok on a phone screen on Thursday, March 16, 2023. (Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
CHINA CAN USE TIKTOK AS ‘PROPAGANDA’ TOOL, ‘ABSOLUTELY’ SHOULD BE BANNED, SEN. WARNER SAYS
Shanahan said the social media app had already been responding to concerns through “transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting and verification.”
The TikTok logo on a smartphone arranged in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Thursday, March 9, 2023. (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
TikTok is used by two-thirds of teenagers in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Julia Musto is a reporter for Fox News and Fox Business Digital.