TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is dodging direct questions about China’s human rights violations after repeatedly insisting he was not taking orders from his platform’s parent company or party officials.
“Do you agree that the Chinese government has persecuted the Uyghur people?” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-AZ, asked at the start of her allotted time during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Security issues of TikTok Thursday.
“When you use and open our app, you see our users giving all kinds of content,” Chew said before being cut off.
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“I didn’t say that,” Lesko said, then repeated her question.
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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified to a congressional panel on Thursday about security issues surrounding the Chinese app. (Fox news)
When brought to the scene, Chew said, “While it is very concerning to hear all the reports of human rights violations, my role here is to explain what our platform is doing,” and again he was interrupted.
When asked a third time, with Lesko accusing Chew of being “evasive” to a “pretty easy question,” Chew stressed, “Congressman, I’m here to describe TikTok and what we do as a platform, and as a platform we allow our users to freely express their views on this matter and any other matter of interest to them.
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“Well, you didn’t answer the question,” Lesko said.
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Representative Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., attends a House Energy and Commerce Committee draw at the Rayburn Building on Tuesday, July 21, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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Michael Beckerman, Head of Public Policy in the Americas for TikTok and regularly touted as the company’s top lobbyist, repeatedly dodged the question during a December interview. Beckerman responded to the question of how China treats the Uyghur population by saying, “That’s not something I focus on,” adding that TikTok “doesn’t censor content on behalf of any government.”
When pressed again to answer the question, Beckerman said, “I’m just not an expert on what’s happening in China, so it’s not an area I focus on. But you can look into the app and you You will also find enough content about that, “says National review.
Lesko followed up her first hit with a list of major countries, including the United Kingdom, India, New Zealand and Canada, that have banned TikTok from government devices over security concerns, asking how “all of these countries… have been wrong” about the app’s security threat.
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Representative Tony Cardenas, a Democrat from California, speaks at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 23, 2023. TikTok’s CEO faced sharp questions in his debut about the app’s relationship with the Chinese parent company appeared before Congress, where belligerent lawmakers made it clear they would not accept its promise to keep users and their data safe. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Chew said he “eagerly looks forward to discussions” to address the issue. He also dodged questions from Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., on whether parent company ByteDance is a Chinese company that says ByteDance “owns and operates many companies in China.”
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“Is it a Chinese company or not?” asked Cardenas, to which Chew said he “often” discussed the topic of what should be a “global company,” but Cardenas eventually gave up trying to get a straight answer.
Earlier at the hearing, Cardenas described Chew as “dancing” around questions, while other congressmen accused Chew of giving “vague” answers to their questions.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.