Biden campaign joining TikTok proves ‘US national security threat’ rhetoric nonsense
Published: Feb 28, 2024 09:38 PM
Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

US President Joe Biden's campaign officially joined TikTok this month, sparking waves of heated discussions to this day. As a social media app that has been heavily portrayed by the US as a "national security threat," TikTok being used by Biden's campaign highlights the unjust suppression of TikTok by American politicians and proves the hype nonsense.

On February 11, Biden became one of the more than 1 billion users of TikTok, with the account "@bidenhq," operated by Biden's campaign, debuting its first video. US media outlet The Hill said that "the Biden campaign launch on the app could mark an effort to win over younger voters."

Naturally, many American politicians will not miss this opportunity for a political fight. 

US Senator Marco Rubio and colleagues sent a letter to President Biden on February 20, calling on Biden to delete the TikTok account and "publicly acknowledge the national security threat posed by TikTok." Six days later, Rubio tweeted: "TikTok is an app controlled by the Chinese Communist Party that aims to sow division in our country. Our president shouldn't be on TikTok."

TikTok has become a necessary means for American leaders to reach the public. According to a 2023 survey report by the Pew Research Center, about one-third (32 percent) of young Americans aged 18 to 29 say they regularly get news there. Currently, about 170 million Americans are using TikTok, more than half of the total US population. TikTok has become the main source of news and information for Gen Z in the US (those born between 1996 and 2010). Even in the face of negative publicity, TikTok's young users continue to experience explosive growth, proving that the app meets social needs and is a free choice on the market.

Experts say that there are reasons for TikTok's ability to thrive in such a hostile environment. For example, TikTok's app experience and algorithm are unmatched by other American social media platforms, making it difficult for American politicians to ban TikTok. Under such opposition, the US government, which has been fiercely against TikTok, will eventually find itself isolated. 

More importantly, TikTok refuses to take sides in American politics. It banned political ads before the 2022 midterm elections and restricted the fundraising functions of political accounts. It does not intervene in politics and remains neutral. As a company operating in the US, TikTok has always complied with regulations in the face of many unwarranted demands from various states, winning more love and trust among Americans. 

Against this backdrop, American politicians are very self-contradictory when it comes to TikTok. On the one hand, they know that the app is a harmless social media platform, which they could use to influence young American voters. On the other hand, it is considered a "national security threat" only because it is related to Chinese companies, said Lü Xiang, a US studies expert and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The contradiction has failed to make the US propaganda of the 'China threat' theory successful but has proven TikTok's innocence.''

The opening of a TikTok account by Biden's campaign team to attract young voters reflects the deep hypocrisy of American politicians. When the US needs to hype up the theory that "China threatens American hegemony in the world," TikTok is viewed by US politicians as a tool "manipulated by China." However, when it comes to politicians' own interests, it becomes a tool to get closer to the public, reflecting how utilitarian American politics is. In the end, we are witnessing that Washington's behavior toward TikTok is unacceptable to the public and society, so politicians have to choose to compromise for votes, said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University.

Such double standards show that the US' suppression of TikTok is fundamentally untenable. It is obvious that American politicians deliberately label TikTok as a "national security threat," and the facts prove that their smearing and distortion of China are clear. This once again demonstrates that the US government has no bottom line on issues related to China and is engaging in inappropriate witch hunts against everything related to the country.