TikTok CEO Shou Chew faced repeated questions about his nationality and alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from US Senator Tom Cotton.
Chew, a Singaporean national, was questioned about his citizenship, affiliations, and potential CCP membership despite being a citizen of Singapore, which does not allow dual citizenship.
Senator Cotton’s inquiries were described as “McCarthy-esque” by The Washington Post, drawing criticism on social media platforms.
A video clip of the exchange posted on Instagram by Singapore’s The Straits Times received nearly 2,000 comments, with many expressing disapproval and mocking the senator’s questions.
Singapore, with approximately 75% of its 5.9 million population being ethnically Chinese, has a diverse demographic, and many young Singaporeans do not identify with China as their cultural motherland.
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Wednesday’s hearing marked Chew’s second appearance before US lawmakers, with his previous testimony in March 2023 focusing on TikTok’s data security and content-related concerns.
Singaporeans, while initially proud to see a fellow citizen in Congress, expressed disappointment at what they perceived as ignorant and potentially racist questioning by Senator Cotton.
Jojo Choo, an assistant marketing manager, criticized Cotton’s questions as narrow-minded and tinged with racism.
Fian Fazlie, working in the public transport sector, expressed being baffled and amused at the senator’s line of questioning, describing it as ignorant.
Senator Cotton later justified his inquiries on Fox News, suggesting potential affiliation with the CCP anywhere in the world. He claimed that Singapore has a high degree of infiltration and influence by the CCP, although the basis for these assertions remains unclear.
Shou Chew, a 41-year-old Singaporean native, stays there with his family. Chew had jobs at DST Global and Goldman Sachs in addition to working for Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone business, before joining TikTok. The adverse response to Senator Cotton’s questions brings out the issues with racist assumptions and misconceptions.