As TikTok BIll Gets Fast-Tracked, China Orders Apple to Remove US Apps from Store

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

Two things are happening and they are very much connected. Thing #1 is that the TikTok bill which would force ByteDance to sell is being fast-tracked and now has a real chance of making it through the Senate.


With the House of Representatives set to pass the TikTok bill as part of a major aid package over the weekend, the ball would be in the Senate’s court, where friction already seems much lower than it was in March, when the TikTok bill first moved through the House...

All of this looked far less urgent last month, when the U.S. Senate seemed ready to slow-roll any kind of forced sale — parking the bill in the Commerce Committee after the House overwhelmingly passed it in March.

This time around, the Senate can’t dodge the ball headed at them: The House’s TikTok bill was wrapped this week into a set of large aid and national security bills to support Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, considered priority legislation for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The House could approve the package and send it to the Senate as early as this weekend.

Thing #2 is that China's government just demanded Apple remove several US-made apps from its Chinese app store including WhatsApp, Threads and Signal.

The move against popular U.S. messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Threads, comes days after Congress resurrected a bill to force the popular video app to be banned or sold in the United States — timing that suggests the action may be in retaliation against Washington. On both sides, authorities assert that any benefits the apps bring consumers are outweighed by considerations of national security.

The iPhone maker confirmed Friday that the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s internet regulator, ordered the removal of the apps citing national security concerns. Although Apple didn’t specify which apps it removed, analytics company Appfigures said WhatsApp, Threads, Signal and Telegram are no longer in the app store...

China’s government firewall already blocked access to WhatsApp, although users could use the app with the help of virtual private networks, or VPNs. Now, the apps won’t be available for download.

The government has also been cracking down on VPNs.


Earlier this week Politico reported that the Chinese embassy had effectively lobbied against the TikTok bill in meetings with elected officials. To a lot of observers, the fact that China's government is battling so hard to keep control of TikTok only adds to the sense that they feel they have a stake in it.

"These reports are no surprise. The Chinese Communist Party has a vested interest in keeping TikTok under its current ownership structure in the United States so it can influence and spy on Americans,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), outgoing chair of the House's select China panel, said in a statement to POLITICO. “The more the CCP digs in to retain control of the platform, the more it demonstrates exactly why we must divest TikTok from the CCP.”...

"TikTok has no connection with China, I thought, so why would they do that?" quipped Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), a member of the China panel.

"It's so patently obvious that TikTok is owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party," he added, "that if it takes the fact that the Chinese Embassy is taking meetings on Hill to convince you of that — you may have been too far gone."

New York Democrat Rep. Gregory Meeks added, "China should stay out of this — period."

I suspect there are still plenty of people who think this is all overblown and that China wouldn't really do anything nefarious with a silly video app. To those people I'd just point out that the US has been asking China to stop selling fentanyl precursor chemicals to Mexican drug cartels for years. But as we learned this week, the Chinese government has not only ignored those requests it has actively subsidized the companies making the chemicals which kill tens of thousands of Americans each year even as Chinese state media mocks the US drug problem. 


The Chinese Communist Party is our enemy. Senate Democrats need to wise up and act like that's the case.

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