The ads pop up on social media platforms when you least expect them.
And they offer what appear to be incredible bargains.
Like “gold” necklaces for one dollar, or five pairs of socks for $1.69.
The offers come from an online company called TEMU, which for the last 10 months has poured money into an advertising campaign that has blazed across social media.
Tens of thousands of ads on Facebook and other social media platforms do not come cheap.
Lured in by offers of free stuff and cheap goods, 50 million Americans have downloaded the app on Google Play.
And it’s currently the number one free app on Apple’s App Store too.
But I am not buying and here’s why.
I value my online privacy.
I don’t download Chinese apps because they steal your personal data.
In fact, TEMU’s parent company, Pinduoduo (now known as PDD) was found to have installed malware on unsuspecting customers that ransacked their phones and computers for data.
They also embedded coding that made it nearly impossible to uninstall the app; unsurprisingly, it was taken down from Google Play.
Pinduoduo, when caught, supposedly deleted that malware.
But rumor has it that the software engineer team responsible was not fired but merely transferred—to, where else, TEMU.
Do you really want to have a Chinese app on your phone that has access to all your contacts, calendars, and photo albums, plus all your social media accounts, chats, and texts?
Now you might say, “So what. All companies collect personal data.”
While all hi-tech companies are on the prowl for personal data–“If it’s free, you are the product,” has become a byword in the social media industry—the concerns raised by Chinese apps go far deeper.
You see, any data obtained by “private” companies in China is immediately handed over to the state.
Communist China is currently in the midst of the biggest data collection effort the world has ever seen. Companies like Alibaba and Pinduoduo are part of it, whether they want to be or not.
Back in 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed a law requiring all companies to turn over any data that may be useful to national security.
The effect—intended, of course—was that companies deliver all that data to the state.
And lest they run afoul of the state, all companies bend over backward to comply.
So when you download a Chinese app and register, you are effectively handing over your personal data to the Chinese Communist Party.
All of your personal data.
That I refuse to do.
The fact is there are effectively no private companies in China.
Of course, the CCP imported such capitalist innovations as the joint stock company, boards of directors, and stock markets to attract Western capital and technology.
But like the CCP constitution, which supposedly guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion, it’s all a sham.
“Do you think it’s fair to say that there’s no such thing as a truly private company in China?” asked Rep. Mike Gallegher (R-WI), the Chairman of the Select Committee on the CCP, of intelligence expert William Evanina, last week.
“Chairman, that’s correct,” replied William Evanina, the former head of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. “In my experience in the intelligence community in the last decade, I have not seen an example of a private company that is not owned, operated, or influenced by the Communist Party of China.”
In other words, by downloading a Chinese app, you are not doing business with a private Chinese company.
You are doing business with the Chinese Communist Party. And they are vicious brutes.
First off, the CCP is the biggest killing machine in human history, having murdered up to 100 million of its own citizens in endless purges and occasional famines.
As if that weren’t enough, it has spent the past quarter century corrupting our leaders, stealing our technology, and hollowing out our industrial base with one goal in mind: To destroy the U.S.
Another problem is China-made products themselves, some of which have been found to contain lead, heavy metals, and other toxins at levels far above what we consider safe.
I prefer not to suffer death in China.
And bear in mind that if you buy anything made of cotton, chances are that it has been planted and picked by a Turkic people called the Uyghurs under conditions resembling modern-day slavery.
All such products are banned under U.S. law but are often shipped in uninspected small packages from China.
Other products are produced under conditions that make 19th-century sweatshops look humane by comparison.
Pinduoduo has been accused of forcing laborers to work up to 80-plus hours a week. Chinese news reports tell of employees collapsing—or even committing suicide—from overwork and exhaustion.
So, you see, I won’t be buying into the TEMU craze.
Neither my data nor my country is for sale.
Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.