TikTok’s bipartisan backlash a ‘wonderful’ sign, Noem says as SD takes action on Chinese influence
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem praised the bipartisan panel of lawmakers who grilled Singaporean TikTok executive Shou Zi Chew during a hearing, adding her state continues to lead on taking substantive action to blunt nefarious Chinese government influence.
On “Hannity,” the program’s live audience laughed heartily at Chew being lambasted by several lawmakers, including Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., who asked if TikTok’s parent company – Cayman Islands-incorporated Chinese tech firm ByteDance – has “spied on American citizens.”
“I don’t think ‘spying’ is the right way to describe it,” Chew claimed to Dunn, leading the audience to guffaw.
Noem praised Dunn and the other lawmakers featured, saying it is “wonderful to see some of them take action after we did [in South Dakota].”
“We were the state that first brought the ban of TikTok on state devices and on our servers. We made it a criminal offense if a state employee or someone did download or access it from one of our devices and jeopardize people’s personal information. Over 30 states took action after we did here in South Dakota, and then we saw Congress as well ban it for federal devices as well,” she said.
Both Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., expressed bipartisan agreement regarding concerns about TikTok.
“[T]he Chinese Communist Party will put its people through hell in order to keep them in bondage. I hope the American people are willing to be just a little bit inconvenienced to protect their freedom, because that’s really what this is about.”
Noem said the CCP and other enemies are trying to spy on U.S. citizens and manipulate children through social media platforms like TikTok, as they employ algorithms to grow their influence stateside.
She added that, under her governorship, South Dakota banned state contracts with certain “evil foreign governments,” while also bringing up legislation to prohibit Chinese land purchases, which have caused high concern in places like neighboring North Dakota.
“Listen, the only reason that we feel like we have to be so aggressive is because our federal government, our president, are failing,” she said.
“They are endangering the American people. They are weak. And so governors have a responsibility, a duty to protect our people. And that’s why you see us getting so engaged on these foreign policy issues.”
While criticism and concern over TikTok brought together a wide range of lawmakers, at least one New York Democrat did defend the Chinese app, suggesting the presence of racist undertones while claiming Republicans’ objections are rooted in their lack of “swag.”
“Let’s not be racist towards China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman of Yonkers, adding Republicans “ain’t got no swag.”
“Why the hell are we whipping ourselves into a hysteria to scapegoat TikTok?” Bowman wondered aloud during public remarks in Washington, surrounded by other TikTok defenders.