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TikTok Launches High-Speed Train Partnership in China, Comes Under Fire in the US

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Chinese high-speed travel is about to get an interesting upgrade. No, not the launch of a hyperloop just yet, but instead quick-fire video content, courtesy of TikTok

Last Friday, the Chinese short video platform (known as Douyin in China) announced that they would be partnering with high-speed rail services across the country to play TikTok videos on board trains. Train televisions will now broadcast travel, food, cute animal (萌宠 méng chǒng), science, and generally “positive, uplifting content” for travelers to experience according to a statement. 

The feature is coming to 80% of high-speed trains traveling between more than 300 cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Zhengzhou, Harbin, and more. The company also announced that videos would be played on 530 Fuxing train lines in Taiwan, with 200,000 TV screens in total broadcasting TikTok content. 

Related:

How Douyin (TikTok) Became the Most Popular App in the World

This is TikTok’s first foray into high-speed travel media content since May, when they forged an onboard entertainment partnership with China Southern Airlines. 

TikTok, Douyin (抖音) in Chinese, has seen a meteoric rise global popularity, with an estimated 177 million first-time users in this quarter alone. Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company, has quickly become one of the world’s most valued unicorns, or privately held startup companies valued at more than 1 billion USD. 

Yet the platform’s meteoric rise abroad has also seen it increasingly come under the microscope. Earlier this year, TikTok was temporarily banned in India and accused of “cultural degradation.” And last week, a number of US lawmakers expressed concerns over the app’s prevalence in the country, arguing that it potentially posed a “national security threat” and was actively censoring content under the influence of the Chinese Communist Party. A TikTok spokesperson told The Verge that the brand “is committed to being a trusted and responsible corporate citizen in the US.”

Back in China, the move from TikTok to provide content on its impressive network of high-speed railways could be seen as a move to shut down that most annoying of passenger: the person flicking through Douyin without their headphones in. Here’s how one popular noise pollution meme puts it:

noise pollution meme douyin tiktok

A popular meme about Douyin: “The World’s Loudest Noises” (from left to right) – large motorcycle, heavy metal concert, aeroplane, firing of a shotgun, an elementary school student, someone using Douyin (TikTok) without headphones

Allison Jiang
    Allison Jiang is a Baltimore-based writer interested in the intersection of art and culture. She is passionate about big dogs, social justice, and stand-up comedy, among other things.