Can We Still Trust Chinese Apps?

Liwen Qin, Angela Köckritz

Legislators in the US are considering banning Tiktok. India has banned more than 370 Chinese apps since June 2020. The reason? National security. When trade and business can no longer cover the rifts created by geopolitical power competition, can we still trust Chinese apps?

Tiktok has become the favorite app for young people around the world, and wechat for all the people whose works are related to China. More and more apps owned/invested by Chinese companies/funds are becoming indispensable for European users. It seemed harmless in the past decade, but not anymore. These apps can be powerful tools used by China in its growing geopolitical competition with Western democracies. A growing number of stakeholders are reaching this consensus, from Silicon executives like Peter Thiel to the European Commissions.

Why should we avoid “what-aboutism” when we compare the data privacy of Chinese apps and American or European apps? Why does China care more about data sovereignty more than the EU? Why should we pay attention to China’s ideological and disinformation war on the social media? These questions are important not only for Europe’s sovereignty, but for European citizens’ understanding of its own democracy.

Liwen Qin, Podcaster, journalist and consultant
Podcaster, journalist and consultant