Taiwan’s government opened a probe into TikTok, a Chinese social media platform, on suspicion that it illegally operated a subsidiary there. However, the owner of the company denied this accusation.
TikTok is not used widely in Taiwan. The company has been under intense pressure in the United States due to concerns that China could have access to personal data of users.
Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council stated late Sunday that a group of Cabinet members had found out that TikTok was being accused of illegal commercial operations in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper claimed that TikTok owner ByteDance had established a subsidiary in the island for his business. This was contrary to Taiwanese law which states that Chinese social media platforms cannot be used commercially on the island.
Responding to the report, the Mainland Affairs Council stated that the Cabinet’s Working Group had found a possible violation of the law and that legal authorities were conducting an investigation.
It stated that the Chinese government has been using short video platforms such as TikTok in recent years to perform cognitive operations and intrusion against other countries. There is also a risk that users personal data is being collected.
ByteDance stated that “recent reports”, suggesting that it had established a Taiwan subsidiary, were false.
It stated that the company had not created any Taiwan legal entities, in an emailed statement sent to Reuters.
Taiwan bans many Chinese businesses on its island, from the use of social media platforms to high-value chip manufacturing industries.
The council stated that Taiwan already bans government departments using Chinese apps like TikTok.
Meta Platforms’ (META.O) Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social media sites in Taiwan. According to market research firms, TikTok is growing in popularity among youth but trailed other social media platforms in Taiwan.
Taiwanese have complained for years that China is using social media to disinformation the territory it claims.
Taiwan has passed an anti-infiltration bill in 2019. This is part of years-long efforts to counter what Taiwanese see as Chinese attempts to influence politics, the democratic process and society through illegal funding.