Apr 8, 2024 - World

Yellen in China says U.S. wants to find "a way forward" on TikTok

Yellen speaks at a podium in Beijing

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a press conference in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Johannes Neudecker/Picture alliance via Getty Images

Janet Yellen said Monday that TikTok was discussed "briefly" in meetings with her counterparts in China — the latest sign that the prospect of a ban is rattling top officials in Beijing.

Why it matters: A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is pushing legislation — recently passed by the House — that would require the popular video app to be spun off from its parent company, China-based ByteDance, or risk being banned.

  • That possibility is the latest issue that could further stoke tensions over national security between the two global superpowers.

What they're saying: "We discussed it briefly," Yellen told reporters at a press conference early Monday, referring to TikTok.

  • Yellen said the U.S. was worried about protecting sensitive personal data, calling it a "legitimate concern."
  • "I am certainly supportive of efforts by our administration to address national security issues that relate to sensitive personal data," Yellen said.
  • "China, for its part, is also concerned about many social apps that are not allowed to operate in China," Yellen added. "We would like to find a way forward. Of course this is important to the Chinese."
  • Yellen emphasized that President Biden had indicated support for the legislation to crack down on TikTok.

The big picture: In remarks on Monday, Yellen said it was "undeniable" that the U.S-China relationship is on "stronger footing that this time last year."

  • That's despite tough talk about the risk that Yellen said the heavy subsidization of China's manufacturing sector poses to the global economy.

Zoom in: Yellen also said she raised concerns over the role that firms, including those in China, are playing in aiding Russia in the war in Ukraine.

  • "I stressed that companies, including those [China], must not provide material support for Russia's war and that they will face significant consequences if they do," Yellen said.
  • She warned that any banks that "facilitate significant transactions" to funnel goods helping Russia's defense "expose themselves to the risk of U.S. sanctions."

Go deeper: Yellen says cutting off economic relations with China isn't "practical"

Go deeper