Academic Minute Podcast

Shaomin Li, Old Dominion University – Why TikTok Fails to Assure Us It’s Safe

Why are users concerned about China and TikTok?

Shaomin Li, eminent scholar and professor of international business and chair of the department of management at Old Dominion University, takes a look.

Shaomin Li is an Eminent Scholar and Professor of International Business at Old Dominion University, where he serves as the Chair of the Management Department. He studies China, international political economy, and business. His works have appeared in Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, and the New York Times. His most recent books are “Bribery and Corruption in Weak Institutional Environments” and “The Rise of China, Inc.: How the Chinese Communist Party Transformed China into a Giant Corporation,” both published by Cambridge University Press.

Why TikTok Fails to Assure Us It’s Safe

In the debate over TikTok’s future in the U.S., much attention has been given to whether ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is under the influence of the Chinese government and whether data stored outside of China can protect American users.

However, this discussion overlooks the unique relationship between the Chinese state and private enterprises.

The goal of the Chinese Communist Party is to achieve communism globally. This necessitates dictatorial control within China before extending its influence. As a result, the party owns the state, the people, and the firms. The boundary between state and society does not exist.

People and businesses must support the party’s goals, such as assisting the party in intelligence collection. Disobeying the party has severe consequences. Recently, an official warned a resident who disobeyed the party’s order that not only he but also three generations of his descendants would be adversely affected.

The essence of the issue with TikTok lies not in the location of its data storage or the presence of party members on ByteDance’s board but in the reality that the party owns China.

As long as ByteDance owns TikTok, it will support the party’s goals, not just for business survival but also for the safety of its staff and their families.

Read More: Shaomin Li: books, biography, latest update

Shaomin Li 李少民 (@ShaominLi1) / X (

Shaomin Li 李少民 – YouTube


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