Experts: The Weaponization and Threat of China’s TikTok to Americans

The Chinese Communist Party’s making use of the viral app TikTok to infiltrate the United States is drawing increasing concern among U.S. politicians. The calls for the investigation of TikTok are growing.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) on July 5, requesting an investigation into the security risks of TikTok. They said that, in a recent report, TikTok engineers and executives in China have repeatedly accessed the private data of U.S. users, which violated TikTok’s previous data protection commitments.

On July 14, Warner shared information about the risks of TikTok during a conference call with local media. According to him, hundreds of millions of Americans, especially the younger generations, are using TikTok, and it is a huge national security threat to the country. Warner said TikTok collects biometric data from its users, and there is evidence showing that Chinese engineers could access that data in 2020; he thus requested the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into TikTok’s practices. Warner said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was involved in a hacking attack on the U.S. credit rating company Equifax several years ago, and they then gained access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of Americans. Warner perceives the CCP as a threat—through the operation of TikTok, which collects data on Americans. Warner also warned that the problem is Americans’ privacy is being infiltrated and even may be threatened in some ways, or that someone actually has the ability to put Americans in a compromising position.

Regarding the future of artificial intelligence, the country with the most data is the most competitive. The CCP has been using a totalitarian model to collect all kinds of data in an attempt to surpass the United States and become the world’s dominant power in the age of artificial intelligence. Under communist law, Chinese companies must share data with the Communist Party.

Casey Flemming, CEO of BlackOps Partners, a U.S. cybersecurity services firm, recently told NTD that TikTok is a weaponized Chinese social media platform that has become a psychological addiction and is able to manipulate people’s minds. On top of that, as long as this platform exists, the data on our phones and computers will be shared with the CCP. TikTok is 100 percent a national security issue and needs to be addressed immediately, he said.

Fleming also pointed out that not only has TikTok become a security threat to the United States, but any technology—whether it be hardware, software, applications, components, or charging cables, developed or manufactured in China—could be used for espionage to undermine and control the free world. Fleming stated that we must understand that all technology from China is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party; therefore the CCP has been using this technology as a weapon against the United States and its allies. The free world will be weakened and ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, he added.

Fang Wei, the host of Sound of Hope Radio, said that all media companies want to attract users’ attention—including Facebook and Google—so that users will stay longer on their platforms and eventually they earn more from advertisements. But Facebook and Google are mainly focused on commercial interests, whereas TikTok seems to have more political intentions. TikTok is making full use of all the user data—viewing time, points of interest, and other data that has been collected. Fang Wei also brought up the example of Xiao Ming, a Chinese-American investigative journalist, who did a program during the 2020 election to reveal some evidence of TikTok interference in the U.S. election.

Shi Shan, senior editor and chief writer of The Epoch Times’ Chinese edition, disclosed that during the period when the Black Lives Matter group started rioting, a large number of short videos on TikTok about black people were increasingly popping up on his children’s cell phones. Some of these videos were news, and some were simply clips from movies or TV dramas. There were also clips from movies where black people were discriminated against, and these were promoted. Shi Shan remarked that after watching all these videos, young people will think that the United States is a country with a serious racism problem, a country of sin, and a country with discrimination.

Shi Shan said that two aspects of TikTok have caused damage to the United States. The first aspect involves the level of data collection, and the second aspect involves the tools of propaganda and brainwashing. He also pointed out that it is the CIA who invented the word “brainwash.”

According to Shi Shan, many American soldiers were captured during the Korean War. Later, they were released to the United States during the exchange of prisoners of war, and when they were on their way back to the United States on aircraft carriers, the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA discovered a very peculiar situation after they questioned them. All of these American soldiers who were captured and detained by the Chinese military had undergone a great change in their thinking. This situation was different from anything that the U.S. military had experienced before. Many U.S. soldiers were also POWs during World War I and World War II, but after they were released, they were still Americans. Moreover, they were still holding American values. What caused these soldiers to become socialists or communists, to a certain degree, after they had been imprisoned by the Chinese military for two years? The CIA thought it was very strange. So they realized that something must have happened to cause this and they suspected that the Chinese Communist Party had brainwashed these POWS. Thus, the CIA invented the term “brainwash.”

Tracing back the CCP’s brainwashing, Shi Shan said it originated from the Soviet Union. The Russian biopsychologist Ivan Pavlov discovered that the classical conditioning (or respondent conditioning) phenomenon is the psychological basis of these brainwashing techniques. During the Soviet era, the Soviet Communist Party used the same technique that Pavlov used to train dogs to train its officials and its army. The Chinese Communist Party also learned this forced brainwashing method from them.

In addition, the CCP has a set of almost untraceable brainwashing techniques, which they learned from the Nazis. According to Shi, Hilter’s propaganda minister Holdin Kathrin Goebbels used similar methods in order to incite hatred against Jews in Nazi Germany.

Shi Shan said the CCP is using this set of Nazi techniques too, from his long experience observing, reporting on, and writing articles about China. The CCP has been subtly brainwashing Chinese people to form feelings of disgust and hatred toward the United States, without their being aware of it. Shi pointed out that the CCP does this in a very systematic way. They started their attack on the USA a long time ago, back in the 1990s, when they published the book “Unrestricted Warfare.” In this book, they clearly stated what they want to do and the method by which they would do it.

On July 6, 2022, the heads of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Britain’s MI5 made an unprecedented joint appearance to warn of a threat from China. This was the first ever joint public appearance by the leaders of the U.S. and British security services, at MI5 headquarters.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security” and has been interfering in politics, including recent elections. MI5 head Ken McCallum said that the challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party is “changing the game,” and MI5 is conducting an investigation related to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party. The number of activities that are currently under investigation is seven times more than activities in 2018.

Wray warned all the attendees, including business leaders and university executives, that the Chinese regime is using a range of tools to steal their technology.

Fleming said that the press release and announcement that the FBI and MI5 heads issued were a call for everyone to get ready for action, though it didn’t say so directly. He said, “For those of us in the intelligence industry, with consideration of the risk for the world, this is a call to action.”

“We are in the midst of a hybrid war, and there is a possibility of Taiwan being invaded, and that is something on the edge of danger. The pivot point on the scale has shifted, and is putting our adversaries who call us their enemy in an advantageous position. So it’s time for everyone to act instead of sitting still.”