Asian Americans are nervous that the rhetoric in the United States over a potential TikTok ban will increase hate against Asians, CNN reports.
Recent reports based on FBI data showed that hate crimes against Asians surged in 2021. The fear is that increased anti-China rhetoric during the Congressional hearings about TikTok could lead to more hate crimes.
Last week, a House committee questioned TikTok CEO Shou Chew about the company’s alleged ties to China through its parent company ByteDance. Many lawmakers, especially Republican lawmakers, believe China could be spying on the U.S. with the help of TikTok.
Lawmakers have clarified that there issue is with the Chinese government, not Asian Americans, but Charles Jung, a California employment attorney, told CNN that distinction may not make a difference. Jung is also the the national coordinator for Always With Us, a memorial event for the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings that killed six Asian women.
“We know from experience in the United States that once you demonize Chinese people, all Asian people living in this country face the brunt of that rhetoric,” said Jung told CNN. “And you see it not just in spy balloons and the reactions surrounding it and TikTok and Huawei, but also in modern-day racist alien land laws.”
A poll from NPR in 2021 found that large numbers of Asian Americans have feared for the safety since the rise of anti-Asian hate at the beginning of the pandemic. The TikTok hearings are adding to that fear and anxiety.
Ellen Min, a Korean American from Pennsylvania, told CNN that she has already changed her normal routine because she is worried about hate crimes. She’s been keeping an eye on what’s been said at the TikTok hearings.
“You can’t avoid paying attention to the rhetoric, because it has a direct impact on our lives,” Min told CNN.
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If the concern is about data privacy, then Congress should enact laws that apply to all companies including US companies. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and others all collect and sell the same private data that TikTok does. Despite the same complaints about harvesting and selling user data, these companies pay a fine and continue business as usual. Banning the main US rival gives the USA a world monopoly on user data.
Losing a popular app like TikTok affects many people’s ability to sell their products and services but fanning zenophobia is more important. Anyone who claims that targeting the Chinese government does not mean Asian Americans is pointing out a distinction without a difference in Anti-Asian hate. Is Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) the only one in Congress that recognizes this xenophobia?