May 14, 2020 - Technology

Marsha Blackburn urges colleagues to refuse meetings with Chinese companies

A photo of Sen. Marsha Blackburn during a hearing.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn called on her fellow lawmakers to refuse meetings with representatives from Chinese companies, including video sharing app TikTok and telecom company Huawei, in a letter Thursday.

Why it matters: Companies with ties to China have been the target of ire and suspicion from lawmakers from both parties concerned about privacy and security.

Driving the news: Blackburn told colleagues that denying access to Senate offices sends a "warning shot" to Beijing in the misinformation war over the origins of the coronavirus.

  • Banning meetings with Huawei, TikTok, telecom company ZTE, and drone-maker DJI "is a long overdue sanction," she wrote, pointing to bans on government agencies using Huawei and ZTE equipment, and rules against some federal employees using TikTok on government devices.
  • "Their company representatives likewise cannot be trusted to lobby members of Congress with the best of U.S. intentions in mind," Blackburn wrote.

What they're saying:

  • "Contrary to Senator Blackburn’s misinformation, DJI’s American employees welcome every opportunity to discuss issues related to drone technology with our elected officials, helping them to better understand the technology that American first responders rely upon to save lives," DJI said.
  • "TikTok US is led and run by a team of experienced and empowered industry veterans in LA, Silicon Valley, New York, Austin and other cities throughout the country," a spokesperson for the company said. "We believe that open dialogue is the best way for people to learn about our values and policies. We will continue to engage with policymakers who are interested in learning what TikTok stands for."
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