TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, joined other tech company executives in testifying before American lawmakers on the impact of social media on children. In a viral video from the hearing, Senator Tom Cotton questioned Mr. Chew about his nationality and alleged affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Chew, a Singaporean, affirmed his citizenship and denied any ties to the Chinese Communist Party or dual citizenship.
Senator Cotton further pressed Mr. Chew about his appointment coinciding with the Chinese Communist Party’s acquisition of a 1% stake in ByteDance’s Chinese subsidiary. Mr. Chew dismissed any connection, labeling it a coincidence. Senator Josh Hawley also inquired about TikTok’s links to China and its communist party.
This marked Mr. Chew’s first appearance before US lawmakers since March, addressing concerns about TikTok’s impact on mental health and data security. The hearing, part of a Senate Judiciary Committee session, focused on potential harms of major tech platforms on teenagers.
Reactions from netizens varied. Some defended Mr. Chew, emphasizing TikTok’s commitment to internet safety and initiatives like Project Texas. Others criticized the questioning, pointing out what they perceived as blatant racism and unfair targeting of the Singaporean CEO on an international stage.
The video prompted discussions on social media, with users expressing concern over the line of questioning directed at Mr. Chew. Some noted the normalization of racism towards Asians and questioned the appropriateness of discussing political leaders from other countries in an international forum.
Despite the mixed reactions, the hearing underscored the ongoing scrutiny of social media platforms and their impact on society, particularly on issues related to privacy, national security, and the well-being of young users.