TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew recently appeared alongside the chief executives of technology companies including Meta, Snap and X to testify before American lawmakers over concerns about the harmful effects of social media on children. A viral video from the hearing shows Mr Chew being repeatedly asked by US Senator Tom Cotton about his nationality and possible affiliations to the Chinese Communist Party by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
“You said today, as you often say, that you live in Singapore. Of what nation are you a citizen?” Senator Cotton asked.
Mr Chew affirmed that he is Singaporean and mentioned that Singapore does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship.
However, Mr Cotton pressed on, asking if Mr Chew was a citizen of any other nation and if he had ever applied for Chinese citizenship. Mr Chew responded no to both questions. Mr Cotton then asked if he had been a part of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr Chew said, “No Senator, again, I’m Singaporean.”
See the viral video here:
“Senator, I’m Singaporean.” Bizarre exchange between tictok CEO Shou Zi Chew and GOP senator Tom Cotton during US senate hearing, meant to spotlight child safety online. #TicTok#Politics#socialmedia#Onlinepic.twitter.com/6IrdvIjXmU
— C.Vision (@CVisionwear) February 3, 2024
During the hearing, Arkansas Republican Sen Tom Cotton questioned Mr Chew about his appointment as CEO coinciding with the Chinese Communist Party’s acquisition of a 1 per cent stake in ByteDance’s main Chinese subsidiary. Mr Chew dismissed any connection, stating, “It’s a coincidence.” Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley pressed Chew on TikTok’s links to China and its communist party.
It was the first appearance by Mr Chew before lawmakers in the US since March, when the Chinese-owned short video app company faced harsh questions, including some suggesting the app was damaging children’s mental health and that user data could be passed on to China’s government.
CNN reported that the grilling was held at a dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of the CEOs of major tech companies, who faced intense scrutiny over the potential harms of their platforms on teens.
The video gathered an array of reactions from the netizens.
A user wrote, “Forced to reiterate his Singaporean nationality multiple times, Chew defended TikTok’s commitment to internet safety and its Project Texas initiative, emphasizing efforts to prevent foreign influences from affecting American creators’ work.”
“I can’t believe that I’m siding with billionaires but not enough ppl are talking about this. again nobody cares about blatant racism towards Asians cause its too normalized. did anyone notice that Shou Chew is the only one among ‘the big CEOs’ who gets so much hate,” another user wrote on X.
The third user commented, “I feel sorry for shou chew man like you’re asking a Singaporean CEO questions about political leaders of other countries on an international platform when even official Singaporean reps can’t answer to that?”