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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz joins TikTok

April 8, 2024

The chancellor has promised he "won't dance," with his spokesperson saying the platform would allow Germany's government to reach more people who are curious about politics.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz holding up an black iPhone
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced he is now on TikTokImage: Jens Krick/Flashpic/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the latest head of state to join TikTok on Monday.

A video uploaded to his account offers a glimpse of his office with glass windows. The camera then pans to show the chancellor sitting at his desk. Scholz also broke the news on X, formerly Twitter, writing: "I won't dance. Promise."

The spokesperson for the chancellor, Steffen Hebestreit, said in a statement that the TikTok channel would seek to offer more information to citizens who are "increasingly using TikTok to find out about and discuss politics."

The account will also offer a "look behind the scenes of everyday government life," he added. "We have to go where citizens go to get information."

Hebestreit said it was only "by chance" that the opening of the account came days ahead of Scholz's visit to China this weekend.

US President Joe Biden joined the popular social media app in February. 

TikTok under scrutiny

The social media platform would not be loaded onto any official chancellery device because of data protection concerns about the Chinese company.

The hugely popular Chinese-owned social media app has come under growing scrutiny amid national security threats. The US House of Representatives voted to pass a bill last month that could see the app banned unless its China-based parent company, ByteDance, sells its stake.

US lawmakers contend that ByteDance is beholden to the Chinese government, which could demand access to the data of TikTok's consumers in the US whenever it wants.

Several European countries like Estonia and Norway have banned the app on government devices. The European Parliament, European Commission and the EU Council have also prohibited staff from using the app on their official phones amid cybersecurity concerns.

Nepal is latest Asian country to ban social media app TikTok

TikTok is not formally banned on German government devices, but individual ministries have imposed technical restrictions so it can't be loaded up on machines with access to sensitive data. 

For instance, Germany's Health Ministry has an account to counter COVID-19 conspiracy theories but this is run from devices not linked to the ministry servers.

Scholz to travel to China

Scholz is set for a three-day trip to China beginning April 13, Hebestreit told reporters on Monday.

The chancellor will travel to several cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. He is due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on April 16, according to Hebestreit. 

Germany and China are key trade partners, but both leading economies have been struggling for several months.

The trip will mark Scholz's second trip to China since he became chancellor. 

rm/ab (Reuters, AP) 

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