U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach discusses the importance of having clean data apps and says TikTok is under evaluation as part of a constant evaluation of Americans’ privacy. Transcript of the interview:
Liz Claman: Let’s get now to a Trump administration official who would know a lot about what may happen. A Fox Business exclusive with one of the top experts in the world on Chinese intelligence, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Keith Krach. You’re also a tech CEO from Silicon Valley, having run DocuSign and founding a whole bunch of other companies. Good to have you, sir. First, is the Trump administration gearing up to ban TikTok here in the United States?
Secretary Krach: Well, first of all, Liz, it’s great to be back on your show. I appreciate it. You know, with respect to TikTok, I want to put it in a broader context, and that is we’ve been engaged in a constant evaluation about ensuring that we protect the privacy of American citizens and their information as it transits. And this is part of the clean network program we have in 5G, the Clean Path program, with regard to incoming traffic clean apps, which TikTok would fall under clean data centers, clean cloud, clean carriers. So it doesn’t just relate to one company. And we’ve got to get it right, Liz. And this is not to be taken lightly, because when you look at these apps, you look at the backbone of 5G, it’s laying the groundwork for the Communist Party’s surveillance state. And these apps are an appendage to that. And it’s a way for China actually to extend their great China firewall. So it is a threat to national security.
Liz Claman: OK, let me just be clear. Because it is part of this clean app requirement that the United States already has. Is it fair then to say that it as in TikTok is perceived by the administration as a national security threat? Well, I think you just said that, but I’m trying to just make sure we’re clear on this.
Secretary Krach: Yeah. The way it is, we’re evaluating that very carefully right now. You’d be premature for me to say anything until there’s anything official. But I can I can clearly say that we’re evaluating all those kind of apps with regard, you know, you talk about WeChat or you talk about Ali Baba’s you see browser. You saw India banned fifty nine apps for their national security purposes. So we’re looking at it right now.
Liz Claman: All right. We’ve got Chinese stocks all moving down. I point that out simply because we’re a business network. We have an investor audience. But that said and my last question on TikTok is I want to talk about why way and other issues that you’re focusing on. Some might say that if the Trump administration were to ban TikTok, it would be in retaliation for what a lot of teenagers who use TikTok claim, and that is that they were able to sort of sabotage the president’s rally back in Tulsa a few weeks ago by ordering up a bunch of tickets and then not showing up. Hence, there were empty seats. Would it be in any way, shape or form retaliation for that?
Secretary Krach: Absolutely not. Not in any way, shape or form. I have children. You know, I want to make sure their privacy is protected. I’ve got five children, as you know Liz. And it has nothing whatsoever. And with that.
Liz Claman: You got me beat there, I’ve got two. But we’ve talked about our teenagers, it’s it’s a little bit of a challenge no matter what they’re doing online. Let me get to Huawei. Where do we stand on that? We do know that the United States and the U.K. have have not exactly seen eye to eye on this. But now U.K. phone carriers say they could face mobile blackouts if they were to strip all of Huawei’s equipment from their 5G networks. What do you say to the United Kingdom with whom we have a very strong relationship? If they’re concerned that they don’t want to see blackouts there, what’s the answer?
Secretary Krach: Well, by the way, I think they’re reevaluating it right now, Liz. I think their foreign secretary, Raab, put it really. I think you hit the nail on the head when he talked about referring to the global pandemic, referring to them breaking the agreement that they had with China on Hong Kong. He said it all comes down to trust. How could you how can you trust somebody that breaks these agreements? So I think the U.K. is aware of Huawei as an extension of the Chinese Communist Party and their surveillance state. So I think they understand it boils down to one thing. Who do you trust? And do you trust a company that comes from a country that has an National Intelligence Act that requires any company, state owned or otherwise or any citizen to turn over any information, proprietary technology or or data upon request to the Chinese Communist Party or suffer the consequences?
Liz Claman: Well, I remember Nick Kristof’s book years ago, China Wakes. And boy, have they woken up. And while they look capitalistic in certain ways, they are still an authoritarian regime. Which leads me to the sanctions that the Trump administration has just handed down to certain individuals in the Chinese government. A top secretary in the Politburo has been sanctioned and now the Chinese are saying they will retaliate against the U.S. sanction. How tightly will the Trump administration hold to this? Because there are a lot of human rights abuses going on, and that is specifically what the administration has cited in these sanctions.
Secretary Krach: Well, we will hold very tight to this. And, you know, Secretary Pompeo gave a business advisory for businesses that are some way, shape or form the supply chains, touch Xinjiang. This is some of the probably the worst human rights abuses since World War II. And, you know, now we have discovered forced sterilization, forced abortion, slave labor, torture. And this is two million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups. And so I think this shows the level of seriousness that is that the Trump administration looks on this abuse of mass proportions on human rights. And as you know, Liz, I sent a letter to every CEO in the United States, every board member, and recommending that they analyze their supply chains. Number one. Number two, look at these companies, these Chinese companies, because they’re also exporting this slave labor throughout China. And many companies are using it and recommending to their board of directors that if they haven’t already to set up a set of governance principles. It has to do with human rights and also for these financial institutions to exact. A third evolved in human rights DIVESTS. And as a matter of fact, as you know, that these Chinese companies, they don’t have to do Sarbanes-Oxley, which as a former CEO who’s taken, three companies public. That kind of makes me mad. But it’s not about it’s not about me personally. It is about the American investors and it’s about American businesses because it tips in favor of, Chinese companies. So at a bare minimum, the emerging index funds, pension funds, endowment funds. They say they should really disclose what are the Chinese companies the third best in either directly or indirectly? I think that a transparency scheme is OK.
Liz Claman: Well, I think it’s been a horrific abuse — human rights abuse going on with the Uighurs, and we’ll be watching all of this closely. People can vote with their pocketbook and their investments. Keith Krach, always a pleasure to have you. Under Secretary of State, we are so grateful that you come on and talk about TikTok. Right. You know, we’re too old fogies talking about that story here. Amazon banning TikTok. Thank you so much.