Washington: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US is “certainly looking” at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, days after India blocked the popular video-sharing platform.
India banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including TikTok and UC Browser, on June 29, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.
During an interview on Monday with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Pompeo said that he and President Donald Trump are taking the reports seriously after he was told by the host that India had already banned the app and Australia is considering doing so.
“We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it’s the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo said.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” he said, adding that he did not want to dive into specifics and potentially “get ahead” of any presidential announcement.
“But, it is something we are looking at,” he said, going on to warn Americans that they should be cautious in using TikTok, lest they want their private information “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Pompeo’s remarks on the Chinese social media apps came amid growing tensions in bilateral ties with Beijing on a range of issues, including on the coronavirus outbreak and the controversial national security law imposed in Hong Kong.
The US has banned Huawei from their 5G networks over concerns of security and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom firm. The recent ban by India on Chinese apps has been widely noted in the US and some prominent lawmakers have urged the American government to follow suit as it is believed that the short video-sharing app is a major security risk to the country.
Republican Congressman Rick Crawford tweeted that “TikTok must go and it should have been gone yesterday.” US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien had alleged that the Chinese Government is using TikTok for its own purposes.
“On TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media platform with over 40 million American users, probably a lot of your kids, and younger colleagues, accounts criticising the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and Beijing’s policies are routinely removed or deleted,” O’Brien said in his public remarks.
At least two bills are pending in the US Congress to ban federal government officials from using TikTok on their cell phones., reflecting such a sentiment can gain momentum in the US after India’s decision.
“Would that be the same Chinese TikTok that was used to tank attendance at the Tulsa Rally?” tweeted Peter Navarro, Assistant to the US President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy, as he tagged a news report from The New York Times on India’s decision to ban these Chinese social media apps.
Earlier, Fox News anchor Ingraham urged the US to do the same. “LEADING THE WAY, WHERE’S THE US? India bans dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok” she said in a tweet on June 29.