(Liberty Bell) – Those running TikTok claim up and down that, despite operating in a country where the one-party state has its hands in virtually all big business, they’re totally not involved with the Chinese Communist Party at all, whatsoever.
This is of course what the CCP’s apologists on the American left are saying as well, now that Trump has moved to ban the social media app from the United States.
Meanwhile, the National Pulse reports, “TikTok parent company ByteDance’s financial backing from Hillhouse Capital Group, which the National Pulse can reveal, only serves to vindicate those who view the app as a CCP proxy.”
Headquartered in Beijing and founded by Chinese national and Hong Kong government advisory board member Zhang Lei, Hillhouse manages a $50 billion dollar portfolio including American companies Zoom, Facebook, and Amazon. Also tucked in their portfolio are CCP-linked companies Tencent and Alibaba.
For example, Tencent, similarly under fire from the Trump administration for its CCP ties, has been described the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation as a “tool of the Chinese government,” noting it retains “no meaningful ability to tell the Chinese Communist Party ‘no’ if officials decide to ask for their assistance.”
And its CEO has direct CCP links, currently serving as a Congressional Deputy and a member of the premier CCP body, the Standing Committee.
And TikTok, according to Wall Street Journal reporting, has been on the Hillhouse rolodex since before August 2018.
Follow the red brick road.
They go on to explain that the founder of Hillhouse has extensive connections to the CCP, a fact which is highly concerning considering the app is already required by the state to hand over user data should it be requested.
Zhang happens to serve as vice-chairman of the board of directors at Renmin University, which is based in Beijing and is one of the top CCP-controlled and funded universities and trains many of the nation’s top party apparatchiks.
It also participates in the nation’s global propaganda campaigns and spearheads the formation of 12 Confucius Institutes overseas, which, as National Pulse explains, “serve as the international propaganda arm of the CCP and are hotbeds for intellectual property theft, ‘undisclosed ties to Chinese institutions, and conflicted loyalties’ according to the FBI.”
Zhang also donated over $45 million to Renmin for the formation of the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a project done in tandem with the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST).
The charter of CAST defines its mission as “serv[ing] as a bridge that links the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government to the country’s science and technology community.”
When the center had its grand opening, CCP officials declared that the center would take up President Xi Jinping’s mission “to develop an AI system that is suitable for the government to provide services and make policy decisions.”
National Pulse goes on to explain:
The school has also hosted seminars on how to best assist the CCP by “strengthening the combination of AI and social governance and strengthening the integration of government information resources and public demand forecast.” Representatives including the Director of Policy and Regulation at the CCP’s Propaganda Department were also in attendance.
Zhang is also a governing board member of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a CCP-funded propaganda initiative chaired by Tung Chee Hwa, high-ranking CCP apparatchik and former head of Hong Kong. The controversial foundation is a registered Chinese foreign agent that targets American universities with offers to fund policy research, high-level dialogues, and exchange programs. Many schools, however, have divested from CUSEF in light of these ties.
Former Hillhouse employees have also progressed to work for TikTok and its parent company ByteDance.
Josh Gartner, the former Executive Director of Hillhouse’s Corporate Communications, now performs that same duty for TikTok. He serves as TikTok’s Director of Corporate Communications and spokesperson.
Additionally, a former ByteDance investment associate at now assists with Hillhouse investment strategy in the technology, media, and telecom sectors. Another individual, who worked for ByteDance “on online advertising/media buying, acquisition, spend allocation, and overall growth strategy for TikTok,” now serves as a Hillhouse investment associate.