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Lawyer Cheng Shaoming Interviewed by Economic Observer Regarding TikTok's Banning Crisis in the United States

2024-03-17 Views:504

The House of Representatives in the United States voted in favor of an unwarranted bill titled "Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act" (H.R.7521) on the morning of the 13th. This bill demands that ByteDance divest its control over its short-video application TikTok, threatening a ban in the United States if compliance is not met. The bill must still undergo approval by the Senate before being presented to President Joe Biden for final ratification. In response to this development, Cheng Shaoming, the director of Tahota (Washington) Law Firm, granted an interview to Economic Observer. Lawyer Cheng Shaoming holds a law degree from Southwest University of Political Science & Law and a doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in six US states, including Virginia, and has undergone professional training in consular protection by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the interview, Lawyer Cheng Shaoming emphasized that TikTok's approach to safeguarding user information and protecting the rights of American citizens is comparable to any other American social media platform. The sole distinction between TikTok and other American social media platforms lies in its Chinese parent company. When TikTok initially faced the prospect of a ban by the US government, ByteDance clarified that TikTok is a wholly-owned subsidiary. In 2020, Oracle and Walmart acquired 12.5% and 7.5% stakes in TikTok for USD 7.8 billion and USD 4.7 billion respectively, collectively holding a 20% share, while ByteDance retains an 80% stake. During a congressional hearing in 2023, Shou Zi Chew was repeatedly queried about the nationality of TikTok and ByteDance. He clarified that TikTok is not a Chinese company but is registered and established in the United States with corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and Singapore. He further noted that foreign investors hold approximately 60% of ByteDance, employees own 20%, and the company's founders hold the remaining 20%. Additionally, three of the five board members of ByteDance are Americans. However, this perspective is not shared by the US authorities. Co-sponsors of the bill, representatives Mike Gallagher (Republican from Wisconsin) and Mark Warner (Democrat from Virginia), among others, have stated that China could potentially use TikTok's powerful algorithms to influence American users with political propaganda. Finally, Lawyer Cheng Shaoming advised that Chinese companies entering the US market must prioritize compliance. Subsequently, they should adapt to American practices by engaging legal firms, consulting companies, and lobbying firms to safeguard their interests through diverse means.