China calls out Australia's ban on TikTok as 'abuse of power'

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning has called the Australian government's decision to ban TikTok on government devices an 'abuse of power,' in the first official response to Tuesday's announcement.

China calls out Australia's ban on TikTok as 'abuse of power'
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China has criticised Australia's decision to ban TikTok on government devices as an "abuse of power," according to the country's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.

Speaking at a press conference, Ms Ning called on Australia to "provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies."

While China's comments may be viewed as cynical by some, given the country's practice of limiting access to Western social media apps, security concerns have been raised about TikTok's potential use of user data and the possibility of Chinese agents spying on Australians or influencing their views.

ByteDance, TikTok's Chinese parent company, has been linked to the ruling Communist Party, leading the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand to impose similar bans.

In late 2022, ByteDance admitted to conducting an operation to uncover the sources of journalists writing negative articles on the app, despite repeated denials from TikTok.

There have also been concerns about the amount and type of data harvested by the app, including a report by Canberra-based intelligence think-tank Internet 2.0, which concluded that it gathered an "excessive" amount of information from users.

TikTok was fined $23 million in the UK after allowing as many as 1.4 million children under 13 to use its platform in 2020, even though it sets 13 as the minimum age to create an account.

James Paterson, the shadow minister for cyber security, has been pushing for a wider ban on the app, saying that the ban on government devices "doesn't help six to seven million Australians who also use the app and they need protection too."

The US is reportedly considering forcing ByteDance to relinquish its ownership of the app in America or face a total ban.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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