(CMR) The United States has ordered federal employees to remove the video app TikTok from all government-issued phones within 30 days.
The order follows similar moves by the EU and Canada in recent weeks. Some US states have already banned the app on government-issued devices. The US Congress voted in December to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices as several politicians said TikTok presented national security risks to the US.
However, China has accused the US of overreacting and abusing state power to suppress foreign firms.
“We firmly oppose those wrong actions. The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the US,” spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters during a news briefing on Tuesday.
“How unsure of itself can the world's top superpower like the US be to fear young people's favourite app like that?” she added.
Western officials have become increasingly concerned about the popular video-sharing app – owned by Chinese firm ByteDance. However, BCC reported that Australia said it had not received any advice from its intelligence services recommending that it follow the examples of the US, the EU, and Canada.
TikTok has been accused of harvesting users' data and handing it to the Chinese government, which means sensitive information could be exposed when the app is downloaded to government devices.
The company insists it operates no differently to other social media companies and would never comply with an order to transfer data.
Some federal offices – including the White House and the Departments of Defence, Homeland Security and State – have already banned TikTok from their devices.
The US Federal Chief Information Security Officer Chris DeRusha said the move emphasized the Biden administration's “ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the American people's security and privacy.”
Congressional Republicans are expected to pass further legislation in the coming weeks which would give President Joe Biden the power to ban the app nationally.
“We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that won't have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans,” a TikTok spokesperson told the BBC.