Had China set out to devise a disarming way to challenge US hegemony in technology and entertainment, it could have not done better than TikTok. Who could dislike a sweetly addictive mobile app filled with 15-second looping videos of teenagers lip-syncing and dancing?

Plenty of politicians, it transpires. TikTok’s blunder in temporarily taking down a video of 17-year-old Feroza Aziz criticising China’s inhumane treatment of Uighur Muslims last week inflamed suspicions about the intentions of Bytedance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company. Many young people want to be “TikTok famous” but TikTok is at risk of becoming infamous.

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