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Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images

TikTok head Alex Zhu canceled meetings with lawmakers who have raised concerns about the popular video-sharing app in Washington this week.

The big picture: The cancellation is fueling a fresh round of criticism from lawmakers who have already called out the Beijing-owned company over issues ranging from censorship to children's privacy.

Driving the news: A TikTok spokesperson said Zhu still wants to hold the meetings, just not this week.

  • “TikTok has no higher priority than ensuring Congress Members’ questions are addressed fully and transparently," the company said in a statement. "To ensure these conversations are as productive as possible, we're postponing these meetings until after the holidays.”

What they're saying: Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Josh Hawley, who both had meetings scheduled with Zhu, were quick to call out the company on Twitter.

  • "What is the real reason TikTok has cancelled my meeting with CEO Alex Zhu? What are they really doing with your data and what type surveillance are they conducting on your precious children? TikTok — you owe us answers," Blackburn tweeted.
  • "NEWS: @tiktok_us just cancelled their meeting with me this week. Not willing to answer questions. Get a call from Beijing?" Hawley said via Twitter.
  • Hawley introduced legislation that took aim at TikTok last month, while Blackburn has pressed the company on digital gifts and children's privacy.

Context: The meetings with Hawley and Blackburn were part of a planned effort by Zhu to meet with some of the app's toughest critics on Capitol Hill, as reported by The Washington Post.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.