Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner made a stunning admission while visiting Australia, asserting that former President Donald Trump was right to warn of social media platform TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
“This is not something you would normally hear me say, but Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago,” he said on the trip, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. While president, Trump attempted to ban the app outright but later pivoted, opting for a partial sale of the firm’s American assets to a U.S. company, which ultimately fell through amid a bevy of legal obstacles.
“If your country uses Huawei, if your kids are on TikTok, if your population uses WeChat as a social media platform, the ability for China to have undue influence is, I think, a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict,” Warner continued. “China having this kind of technology domination in a number of countries ought to scare the heck out of us because we’ve seen the kind of Orwellian surveillance state they’ve already created within China.”
Warner’s comments come amid reports that the Biden administration is looking to cut a deal to keep TikTok in the United States but to separate American user data from that of other countries and to deny Chinese officials access to it. Industry experts remain skeptical that parent company ByteDance could accomplish such a separation and that a deal would alleviate security concerns about the app.
The Virginia Democrat previously expressed his own doubts about any such plan to Bloomberg, saying TikTok has “a big mountain to climb with me to prove the case that it can really be safe.”