After the island’s officials claimed they were looking into TikTok for conducting “illegal operations,” the social media app’s Chinese owner denied establishing a subsidiary firm on Monday.
The cabinet sought a multi-agency inquiry during a meeting on security risks raised by Tik Tok earlier this month, according to the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s primary authority for formulating China Policy.
The case was also forwarded to prosecutors for investigation after a local company allegedly engaged in business activities in Taiwan on behalf of ByteDance, MAC said without elaborating. Chinese internet and social media platforms are banned from operating businesses in Taiwan under local laws.
ByteDance said on Monday that it had no presence in Taiwan.
A spokesperson told AFP, “The recent reports suggesting ByteDance has set up a subsidiary in Taiwan are incorrect. The company has not established any legal entities in Taiwan.
TikTok is available in Taiwan but is not especially popular.
On Monday, the Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times reported that the subsidiary under investigation was a company set up in 2018 that changed its name to ByteDance Taiwan Ltd Co in November.
Taiwan has long warned that it is on the receiving end of huge Chinese disinformation and espionage campaigns.
It has ramped up scrutiny of Chinese businesses in recent years and imposed investment rules on various key sectors, including the island’s state-of-the-art semiconductor industry.
MAC described TikTok as a security risk.
“In recent years, China has used TikTok and other short videos to conduct cognitive operations to infiltrate other countries,” it said late Sunday.
“There is also a high risk of users’ personal information being collected for the Chinese government,” it said.