Letter to the Editor: Tenuous Connection between TikTok and Uighurs

I am a Bates class of 2017 graduate, and as you might already figure from my name, I am a Chinese. I believe that this article reflects a dangerous trend of anti-sino racism hidden under the mask of national security concern and human right outrage, which is currently prevalent in the U.S., unfortunately. In addition, I find certain phrase used by the author offensive and I am astonished by the lack of logical connection between TikTok and Uighurs.

The phrase “obedient, secular citizens who will never challenge the Communist Party” makes me uncomfortable because even though the author is only talking about what could happen to Uighurs, this phrase still makes me wonder whether this is how the author views the secular Chinese citizens at large. During my seven years in the U.S., the most common stereotype that I have encountered is that Chinese citizens are obedient and even blind to the evil, dictatorship nature of the Chinese Communist Party. People asked me whether I know about the Tiananmen Square Massacre all the time. Of course I do — why am I presumed to know nothing? Enough about my feelings, a reasonable person could argue that I am just too sensitive.

What’s truly problematic about this article is the fact that the logical connection between TikTok and Uighurs is almost non-existent. The author puts a lot of effort in describing what happened in Xinjiang, which indeed is something worth writing about. However, how the hell is TikTok’s collection of its U.S. users’ data logically connected to what Chinese government did in Xinjiang? The author would be out of his mind to suggest that with the data accumulated through TikTok, the Chinese government can do to the U.S. citizens what it did to Uighur people. In the end of the article, the author suggests that using TikTok contributes revenue to a private company that pays tax to the Chinese government and thus using TikTok indirectly supports the Chinese government. But the same is true for U.S. companies that pay tax to the Chinese government. If we are to forget about direct causation in our moral discussion, everyone would be responsible for everything because at the end of the day, every event can be the indirect cause of another event. Maybe I am being too sensitive again. Maybe The Bates Student does not require logical reasoning in the articles it publishes. Maybe this article is just something to fill in the empty spaces that needs to be filled in every month. If that is the case, I apologize for the harsh tone in my critique of this article.

Letian Ge is a member of the Class of 2017