White House wants TikTok’s parent company to divest: ‘We don’t want to see a ban’

Written by on March 17, 2024

ABC News

The White House on Sunday reiterated support for a controversial bill meant to cut China’s ties to TikTok by forcing the popular app’s Chinese parent company to sell it — or face a ban in the U.S.

At the same time, White House national security communications adviser John Kirby said on ABC News’ “This Week,” the administration acknowledges the concerns of many American users.

“I want to stress again, over and over, that this isn’t about a ban,” Kirby told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “We don’t want to see a ban on TikTok. We understand there’s a lot of people whose economic life relies on it.”

He said the administration instead wants to see TikTok split from its China-based parent company, ByteDance, who staunchly opposes the legislation and maintains that the data fears around the use of TikTok are unfounded.

“We want to see divestiture from this Chinese company because we are concerned, as every American ought to be concerned, about data security and what ByteDance and what the Chinese Communist Party can do with the information they can glean off of Americans’ use of the application,” Kirby said.

Kirby also reacted to Israel saying it has military plans to invade Rafah, in the southern part of Gaza, amid its ongoing war with Hamas in the wake of Hamas’ October terror attack.

“We would not support such an operation unless or until they can accommodate the 1.5 million refugees that are there [in Rafah] and preserve their safety and security,” Kirby said.

“We have continued and will continue to press the Israelis to do more to reduce civilian casualties, to do more to get more [aid] trucks in and to, again, help us come to closure on this temporary cease-fire so that we can get all those hostages out,” he said.

Raddatz pressed Kirby on President Joe Biden’s recent comments that a Rafah invasion for him would be a “red line” before appearing to walk that back.

So — “what is it?” Raddatz asked.

“I don’t want to get ahead of where we are. They haven’t moved into Rafah,” Kirby said, stressing Biden’s opposition to an invasion that doesn’t consider civilian safety.

He later added, “Now the Israeli Defense Forces say that they have such a plan for an evacuation, they talked about humanitarian islands in Gaza. Again, we welcome the opportunity to see that, to see if that’s actually executable and doable.”

In the meantime, the U.S. is continuing the “emergency” mission it announced earlier this month to construct a floating pier off Gaza’s coast in an effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory — a delicate operation that brings American forces closer to the conflict.

Kirby said the first parts of the pier left Norfolk, Virginia, last week.

“It’s going to probably take about six to eight weeks or so for all the pieces to get in place for it to become operational,” he said. “We are working with partners in the region to figure out the details of how the material will be secured on and off the floating dock and, of course, how it will be distributed inside Gaza.”

Kirby did not directly answer Raddatz’s question as to how the mission could be completed without U.S. boots on the ground in Gaza.

The White House is also working to provide additional military assistance to Ukraine as it continues to fight Russia’s invasion after legislation to do so stalled in Congress over a fight about immigration policy.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said last week that he now expects to pass the funding bill with Democratic votes.

Kirby said “the White House has been in touch with Speaker Johnson and his team about this moving forward,” adding, “Time is of the essence.”

“They are running out of ammunition in the Donbass and they are falling back now on second and third lines of defense as the Russians continue to try to push west,” Kirby said of the Ukrainians. “They’ve got to have the support and we need it now.”

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