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China denies pressuring companies like TikTok to spy for its govt

China on Friday denied pressuring companies to collect information abroad on behalf of the government, rebuffing claims American lawmakers made about the viral video app TikTok, which is at the centre of an escalating dispute between Washington and Beijing over politics, technology and economics. At a news conference, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, said China “has never and will not” ask companies or individuals to collect data stored in foreign countries in a way that violates those countries’ laws.
Aday earlier, during a heated, five-hour congressional hearing, US lawmakers grilled TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, over the app’s ties to its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, as well as its possibleuse as a surveillance tool by the Chinese government.
China’s reaction to the hearing highlighted how TikTok, which has roughly 150 million users in the United States, has become a point of contention in the geopolitical tussle between the world’s two largest economies. Hours before Chew’s hearing Thursday, China’s ministry of commerce said it would oppose a forced sale of the app, a rebuketo the Biden administration, which recently called for the app’s Chinese owners to sell it or face a possible ban in the United States.
The White House has already endorsed a bipartisan Senate bill that will give commerce department power to ban any app that endangered Americans’ security, putting potential curbs on TikTok on more solid legal footing.
On Thursday, lawmakersrepeatedly pressed Chew on ByteDance’s admission that employees had obtained data of US users, including two American journalists. China’s claim that the government would never ask companies to spy for it was “similar to their argument that they don’t censor the internet,” said Lokman Tsui, a fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, who called it “preposterous and laughable. ”

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