The racism behind the TikTok ban and the equally bad hypocrisy of China

TikTok ban

When TikTok CEO Mr Chew was forced to constantly explain to an American Senator that he was Singaporean and thus not a member of the Chinese Communist Party, many of us winced at how embarrassing it was.

Yet despite such a blatant global display of ignorance and xenophobia anti-TikTok and anti-Chinese rhetoric has hit such a level that Joe Biden has stated he is prepared to sign a bill banning the app from American stores.

On the surface this to “protect American data” from the evil commies, with the US stating the only way to avoid this is for the Chinese parent company Bitedance to sell their stake. This despite the fact that data is stored in Texas and the fact that ownership in the company has been diversified to such a level that it is majority owned by international conglomerates.

Is the TikTok ban a shakedown?

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

While the potential TikTok ban is as we have stated political in nature, some have rightly asked if it as mere shakedown. Currently Facebook, Google, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter) are all US owned.

And as has since been proved all have come under American political pressure of some shape, or form at some time, or another. This was one of the main reasons Elon Musk, officially at least purchased Twitter in a bid to save “free speech”. Whether he has succeeded at all in this regards is open to debate. What is not open for debate though is that out of all social networks that hold any importance, TikTok is the outlier.

This will give the company two choices, firstly bend to the long arm of the American judicial system, something the Chinese government would not be happy with, or sacrifice America.

Were it to do the later many might think it could survive without American users and creators, but this ignores the flip side of this story. And that is that the 1.4 billion person market that is China is not something they can fall back to, with TikTok banned in the mainland.

What would a world without TikTok look like?

If the TikTok ban were to go through and indeed be embraced by other nations what would this new world look like? Ironically we do not have o go too from the shores of Singapore, or China to find this out. Amazingly TikTok has been banned, or rather has stopped being operational in Hong Kong since 2020.

The app which ironically has never existed in the mainland was pulled from Hong Kong stores shortly after the controversial Hong Kong national security law was passed in the Special Autonomous Region,

As such when you do try and login to TikTok in Hong Kong you are given the following message

“Dear Users,

We regret to inform you that we have discontinued operating TikTok in Hong Kong.

Thank you for the time you have spent with us on the platform and for giving us the opportunity to bring a little bit of joy into your life.

The TikTok Team”

And if you have the app it seems to work on some phones and tablets, but not others, simply saying “no internet”.

The irony of course with this “ban” is that the Hong Kong government did this through fear of the problems Beijing might give it if certain people posted certain things on the app. And of course this ban did not cause any international furore and certainly not any condemnation from CCP officials in Beijing.

What also makes this ban stand out is that Hong Kong, and Macao are the only “parts of China” that allow Facebook, X and YouTube among others. That TikTok was banned here leaves far more questions than it does answers.

Is the TikTok ban about American digital hegemony?

Without doubt there is some element of America hegemony with regards to either banning, or buying TikTok, but while the move is undoubtedly anti-business, China actually acts in exactly the same way.

Basically all social media and messaging apps are banned in Mainland China, not to mention anything negative about the country. This is done via the infamous Great Firewall of China officially at least for ideological reasons.

Yet while ideology is the driving force it has also led to the creations of parallel Chinese businesses that are often times worth billions. Twitter/X has Weibo, YouTube has YuKu, Tinder has TanTan, while WeChat has arguably combined WhatsApp, Instagram and even Facebook.

This means that China for all intents and purposes operates a completely closed shop that is not only worth billions, but is set up in a way that these billions stay well and truly within China.

So, while any banning of TikTok by American is not only unjust, but will negatively affect their citizens, there is a string amount of hypocrisy when China cry foul.

Greg Nash: A Tik Tok creator holds a sign during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,