China and TikTok- A New Thought

Julius Olavarria | December 29, 2023

Ever since the creation of the popular social media app TikTok, its connections with the Chinese government have been closely monitored. The U.S. Department of Defense is concerned with its ability to influence the will of the people, especially the younger generations, who believe everything they see online. They are worried that China might use the app to steal data, using it against the country and our government, and believe that TikTok users aren’t safe. The ties between the U.S. and China are already fragile: this is one thing that would push the two superpowers over the edge.

The battle between China and the U.S. helps no one. I don’t think we need to argue and make harsh accusations against one another. Yes, there’s no doubt that TikTok might present national security risks, but it's all theoretical- we’re escalating tensions based on what could happen.

The disconnect between China and the United States dates back decades. We have always been fighting with one another, vested in the roots of our system of government, economy, and social divides. This tension is outdated and unproductive. Lowering our fists is the first step toward unity, understanding, and appreciation.

I’m not here to undermine the United States’ accusations against the Chinese government. Our concerns are warranted, and American users are at a potential risk. Most people forget, however, that they're just concerns- we don’t know what China is going to do. 

For most people, including lawmakers, that’s the problem. China is scary. China is communist. Chinese people might want to hurt us. We don’t know what Xi Jinping has planned. 

I say, where’s the unity between one another? 

It is 2024, there’s no room for division between the two most powerful countries in the world. We need to start showing solidarity; stigma against an entire group of people and their government is not the way to start. 

My point is that our accusations are all based on theory. What would happen if China decided to use the data against us? This question cannot be answered because it’s based on theory. 

Again, it’s completely within reason to be concerned, but taking action is unwarranted. As of now, China has done nothing wrong. Nothing has been proven. The only reason they are receiving hate is because TikTok is based out of China- our ideological enemy whose motives are unknown.  

Biden and Trump are presidents of the biggest most impactful country in the entire world. Of course, their number one job when taking this position is protecting the American people. In situations of national security, presidents, congressmen, senators, representatives, and citizens, no matter the political party, are unified. In this situation, Biden and Trump both sought to eliminate a potential threat against the country. They took action against something that could’ve happened, something that China could’ve done, prioritizing safety over rationality. Increasing tensions is not the way to go, especially when everyone has nukes- taking action was not smart despite the security concerns. 

Finally, banning the app and taking severe action stands against our principles as a nation. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, was started in a relatively private climate. The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, claims that TikTok is a private company “not owned or controlled by the Chinese government.” TikTok is a private organization, and if the claims are true regarding China’s involvement, we have no reason to take action. Chew also stated that “ByteDance is a private company with global institutional investors owning 60 percent of its shares, 20 percent owned by the company founder and another 20 percent owned by employees.” This is striking considering China is a communist, oppressive, and freedom-stealing country (according to lawmakers). 

If we can drop the allegations against TikTok then we can drop our longstanding bias against China, right?

Looking forward, I wish for peace between the U.S. and China. A mutual understanding needs to be met regarding TikTok and its influence. Fostering understanding between the two superpowers will propel our world into the future, and TikTok is a great place to start. I know it is incredibly difficult to manage peace between two decades-long enemies, but I believe it is possible. 

Peace one day or day one of peace? TikTok will play an important part in answering this question.