The bipartisan leaders of a key House committee charged with curbing the influence of China’s ruling party expressed concern Monday at President Joe Biden’s campaign outreach over a Chinese-owned social media channel.
“I have concerns about this,” said Raja Krishnamoorthi, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, when asked about the Biden campaign’s new TikTok initiative.
Krishnamoorthi noted he hadn’t been aware of the news. Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the panel, said the campaign move was “really disappointing.”
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The duo spoke on the sidelines of an event their panel was holding in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aimed at highlighting the importance of securing the US biotech industry against vulnerabilities to China.
It came a day after Biden’s reelection campaign unveiled a TikTok account in a bid to reach younger voters.
Lawmakers from both parties have highlighted concerns that TikTok’s ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. poses a data-security risk.
“This issue screams out with national security concerns,” Krishnamoorthi said of TikTok’s Chinese ownership.
“Bytedance can control the algorithm, as well as get access to data for nefarious purposes,” he said, adding that the US should force a sale of TikTok.
“I’m not going to tell the president how to campaign or how to communicate, but I personally don’t have a TikTok account,” Krishnamoorthi said. It’s “not wise to put it on your personal device,” he added.
The national security concerns “outweigh the desire to like convince 18-year-olds to vote for you,” said Gallagher, who in recent days announced that he won’t run for reelection in November.
“We’ve been working with the administration on a framework for how we either ban or force a sale,” making the Biden campaign move particularly disappointing, he said.
Gallagher added that he’d expressed his disappointment to the White House Sunday night.