China accuses UK of ‘overstretching idea of national security’ by banning TikTok

China has accused the UK of “overstretching and abusing the concept of national security” by prohibiting the use of TikTok on government devices.

Addressing a press conference in Belfast while on his first visit to Northern Ireland, Zheng Zeguang, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, urged the UK to respect facts and stop overstretching and abusing the concept of national security to wantonly suppress Chinese companies, reported CGTN.

“We firmly oppose the UK side’s fabrication of excuses to suppress Chinese enterprises. The Chinese government protects data and information security in accordance with the law,” he said.

He also said that political maneuver benefits no one and will eventually backfire.

The Chinese envoy’s comments come after the UK banned the video sharing app on 16 March on official devices following a review by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The ban however allows ministers and officials to use the Chinese-owned app on their personal phones.

Last week, TikTok was also banned in UK parliament and its network, as well on Scottish government devices, in the latest blow for the app.

“Cyber security is a top priority for Parliament, however we do not comment on specific details of our cyber or physical security controls, policies or incidents,” a government spokesperson had said.

Mr Zheng also said that the Chinese government that “such political manipulation of the UK will damage itself and others, making the widely popular social media app, especially for the group of young people, unavailable,” reported the Global Times.

TikTok, which is already banned from many government devices in the US and elsewhere, has also opposed the ban.

“We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics, in which TikTok, and our millions of users in the UK, play no part,” a spokesperson said.

The bans on the app come amid increasing concern about the privacy and security of the app, which critics argue could be passing personal information to the Chinese government through its owner Bytedance.

TikTok has also previously argued that it does not share data with the Chinese government and that its data is not held in China.

It has also refuted accusations that it collects more user data than other social media companies, and insists that it is run independently by its own management.