Senator Tom Cotton Sparks Controversy with Repeated Citizenship Queries to TikTok CEO

Sen. Tom Cotton is facing criticism for questioning TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew at length about his citizenship and if he had ties with the Chinese Communist Party during a heated hearing Wednesday.

Cotton, R-Ark., pressed Chew during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on kid safety online, which included CEOs from Meta, X, Discord, and Snap, as lawmakers struggled with mounting demands to regulate social media.

“Have you ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party?” Cotton asked.

Chew responded, “Senator, I’m Singaporean.”

Cotton went on to inquire, “Have you ever been associated or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party?”

Chew, who lives in Singapore with his American wife and children, said, “No, Senator. Again, I’m a Singaporean!”

People of Chinese descent account for more than 75% of Singapore’s population.

Cotton also asked Chew questions on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and his perspective on them. “You stated before, in response to a question, that what occurred in Tiananmen Square in June 1989 was a massive demonstration.’ Did anything else happen at Tiananmen Square? Cotton asked.

Chew replied, “Yes, I believe it’s well documented. “There was a massacre.”

Social media users reacted quickly to the exchange.

“This is absolutely phenomenal in its revelation of how racist our government is, not just because the question itself is Sinophobic, but also because it’s clear that Tom Cotton can’t tell Asians apart even when they tell him,” wrote journalist and digital media strategist Heidi Moore on Twitter.

“This line of questioning from Senator Tom Cotton is disgraceful, blatantly racist, and deeply dangerous,” tweeted the AAPI Victory Fund, a political action group that favors Asian American politicians.

Cotton defended his statements on Fox News, telling the outlet, “It’s entirely reasonable to pursue a line of questioning about whether he himself, like his company, is subject to the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”

His office did not return queries for comment.

Cotton has long held hardline views on immigration and has supported former President Donald Trump’s border policy.

The CEOs were pushed on their companies’ positions on laws aimed at addressing concerns ranging from teen content moderation to measures to reduce the sale of illicit drugs across several platforms.

One of the most striking moments was when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the audience and personally apologized to mourning families who claim social media contributed to their children’s suicide.

Senators questioned Chew during a hearing last March about TikTok’s data use and child safety measures on the app.


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