TikTok Ban? A Symptom of US-China Tension

Last week, the majority-Republican House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban TikTok, unless the Beijing-based parent company ByteDance sells the app to a non-Chinese buyer. The bill was passed under the pretext of national security, alleging that the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on the U.S. public. In reality, they are more concerned with blocking Chinese competition and fueling fears of China.

The U.S. government wants to be the only authority able to spy on people in the U.S. The Biden administration has previously demanded TikTok give the U.S. government total access to its users’ data, control over its privacy and content moderation policies, and the power to temporarily shut down the platform, in exchange for being allowed to keep operating in the U.S. Politicians want to secure U.S. dominance over communications networks and the molding of public opinion.

While TikTok does collect metadata to sell and use, the same problem is true of U.S. based social media like Meta, Instagram, and X. Yet the U.S. government has not proposed banning any of them, because they do not conflict with national economic interests.

The U.S. government is not concerned about our privacy; they already have lots of surveillance over us, and U.S.-based tech companies mine just as much data as TikTok. The potential for a TikTok ban is part of a larger conflict between the two nations. As the economic rivalry between U.S. and China worsens, so will the feud over technological control. In their march to war, the U.S. capitalist class and their government want to rile up fear and hatred toward China here in the United States.