Japan Ruling Party Group to Analyze Risks of Chinese Apps

A Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party group is set to probe the risks associated with Chinese-developed apps amid concerns about data security among several leading democracies, its leader said Tuesday.

Akira Amari, the group’s top official and the LDP’s tax panel chief, told reporters the time had come to consider what effect software was having on national security, adding that the U.S. was urging other countries to look at the issue from the same perspective. Rather than a “top down” decree on apps such as TikTok, Amari said he wanted users to be aware of the risks entailed.

The group will then urge the government to introduce restrictions based on its analysis, the Yomiuri newspaper said. The move comes as the U.S. threatens a crackdown on apps from China, amid a broader standoff between the world’s two largest economies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin sidestepped a question on the proposal at a regular news briefing Tuesday. “The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and other countries is win-win,” Wang said, adding that China didn’t “want to see any artificial damage to such patterns of cooperation.”

Apart from social media applications like ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, the LDP group would also seek restrictions on Chinese-developed banking systems that use artificial intelligence for tasks like evaluating loan applications, national broadcaster NHK reported separately. India last month took sweeping action to ban TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, after a deadly clash between its military and People’s Liberation Army troops on their disputed northern border.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also said he was considering a ban on TikTok, and a decision was likely to come before elections in November. White House adviser Peter Navarro has said he expected “strong action” against both TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat for engaging in “information warfare” against the U.S.

In Japan, other LDP members earlier this month called for the official cancellation of a state visit by President Xi Jinping in protest against China’s clampdown on Hong Kong. The visit had already been postponed from early April as both countries battled the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to mend often fraught ties with China, his country’s biggest trading partner, while maintaining Japan’s alliance with the U.S.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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