China Lobbying Congress Amid TikTok Ban Efforts

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been secretly attempting to lobby members of Congress over recent proposals to ban the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

As reported by Breitbart, employees of the Chinese Embassy have been meeting with congressional staffers to try to persuade members to vote against the bill that would force the Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok, or else face an indefinite ban on the app’s use in the United States. The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in March with bipartisan support, and is now being reviewed by the Senate.

Several staffers spoke anonymously about their encounters with the Chinese government employees, saying that TikTok was not brought up at first in their initial meetings.

TikTok recently purchased $2.1 million in TV advertising in several swing states, in an apparent bid to influence the coming presidential election. The app has faced widespread criticism from both parties, with Republicans declaring it a national security threat due to its Chinese roots, and Democrats calling out its invasion of users’ privacy and failure to protect sensitive user information.

Despite TikTok publicly claiming that user information has not wound up in the hands of the Chinese government, former employees have testified differently; 11 former employees spoke to Fortune to confirm that TikTok was still closely linked to its parent company ByteDance, and that it is continuing to farm data from American users.

One former employee, who previously worked as a senior data scientist, said that, after the company publicly announced its alleged plan to store American users’ data strictly in the U.S., he was ordered to start reporting directly to an American executive in Seattle. However, the employee said, the man in Seattle did not exist, and he was instead ordered to continue reporting to the same Chinese executive as before.

Joe Biden has indicated that he would sign the TikTok ban bill if it makes it to his desk. The strong bipartisan support with which the bill passed the House suggests that the Senate is more likely to pass it than to reject it.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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