Is TikTok the new cold war in Americans’ pockets? “Your platform should be banned.”

The new cold war is not playing out over a wall that divides a continent but in the pockets of millions of Americans.

A congressional hearing focusing on the popular TikTok video app on Thursday became the latest in a series of recent clarifying moments that laid bare not just the bipartisan hostility in Washington to Beijing’s new global heft but also the extent to which the growing superpower confrontation is beginning to be felt in multiple corners of American life.

A five-hour grilling of TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew also underscored how China is being increasingly viewed not just as a rising threat to US security and economic dominance but also as an ideological challenge – one antithetical to America’s values and way of life, much as the Soviet Union was in the last century.

The possibility that the Chinese-owned platform, which says it has 150 million US monthly users, could be used by the Chinese Communist Party to gather intelligence on millions of Americans was brought up repeatedly by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Members were also preoccupied with the possibility that young, developing American minds could be shaped by a torrent of Chinese-made content or information that could suppress US principles of political freedom and human rights or create confusion or false narratives about American foreign policy.

Such arguments were encapsulated by Washington state GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and set the tone for the hearing.

“We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values – values for freedom, human rights, and innovation,” Rodgers told Chew. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation.”

“Your platform should be banned.”

But Rodgers was not the only government figure who expressed deep suspicion of TikTok on Thursday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken fueled speculation that time may be running out for the app, which is beloved by millions of American teenagers but is already prohibited on federal government phones and on other official devices elsewhere in the West.

Blinken said that he believed TikTok was a national security risk and should be “ended one way or another,” while adding, “there are different ways of doing that.”

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