The CEO of TikTok declined to comment Thursday when asked if China was persecuting Uyghur Muslims during a Congressional hearing, instead saying he was there to talk about the controversial app.
“Do you agree that the Chinese government has persecuted the Uyghur population?” Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona asked Shou Zi Chew during the hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“It is deeply concerning to hear about all accounts of human rights abuse,” Chew said. “My role here is to explain what our platform does.”
Chew dodged further questions about the ongoing persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, where documents obtained and released by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation reported on aspects of the Chinese government’s actions in the western province.
“Congresswoman, I’m here to describe TikTok and what we do as a platform,” Chew said during the hearing, which saw Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the chair of the committee, remind Chew that lying to Congress was a crime at one point.
TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, are beholden to the Chinese Community Party (CCP), and employed former members of Congress, including one-time Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, former Republican Sen. Trent Lott, former Democratic Rep. Barton Gordon and former Republican Rep. Jeffrey Dunham, as lobbyists.
The company is also under fire for its involvement in promoting Chinese propaganda, the transmission of user data to China and dangerous challenges that resulted in accidental deaths. Some Democrats in Congress have come out in opposition to banning the social media app.
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