House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on CNBC Tuesday that the Trump administration was right to give Chinese-owned TikTok an ultimatum: sell to an American company or be banned.
McCarthy went on CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss the security risks of Communist Chinese government-tied TikTok, which is owned by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. The Speaker said the Trump administration “had it right, when TikTok should have been sold” to an American company. He explained how, as policymakers, Congress has an obligation to protect the American public.
Co-anchor Joe Kernen began by noting that banning TikTok has a growing bipartisan consensus (even from the previously pro-TikTok Biden administration), but some Democrats are claiming that banning TikTok would permanently alienate young voters due to the app’s popularity. “Do you think it should be banned? Is that politically palatable to both sides now?” Kernen questioned.
The focus should be on the security risks of TikTok, McCarthy explained. “If a 150 million Americans knew that their data was being used by the Communist Party of China [CPC/CCP], would they be concerned about using it? Do we have a responsibility as policymakers?” he asked.
“I think as policymakers, if you have information, and you don’t protect the American public, you’re not doing your job,” McCarthy later added. “If you’re more concerned about getting votes than it is about securing the nation itself, that’s a concern to me.”
McCarthy referred to the recent Congressional testimony of TikTok CEO Shou Chew. “[He] literally admitted that he could not control the data used by the [CCP],” McCarthy said. “He just wanted to determine that, well, there’s different definition[s] of spying.”
The Speaker also highlighted the evident ambitions of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, who changed his constitution to prolong his term in office. ““We’ve watched him only leave his country twice during the pandemic, both times to meet with [Russian president] Putin in the creation of a new axis of power.”
Donald Trump had a good solution, McCarthy argued. “I think the last administration had it right, when TikTok should have been sold, where they kept the data in America to an American company. I think there’s a real concern here with the growing rise of China, their desire of what they want to do,” he said.
McCarthy ended by saying that he believes there are votes from both Democrats and Republicans to “change TikTok as it currently stands today and to protect the American public on their data moving forward.”
The CCP owns a financial stake and board seat in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. The 2017 Chinese national intelligence law requires every Chinese entity to spy if demanded. The CCP also practices “civil-military fusion,” where everything in the economic and tech spheres is accessible to the Chinese military.
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