Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Think Tanker Trying to Destroy TikTok

Here is more from The Intercept:

Among the many hawks on Capitol Hill, few have as effectively frightened lawmakers over Chinese control of TikTok as Jacob Helberg, a member of the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission. Helberg’s day job at the military contractor Palantir, however, means he stands to benefit from ever-frostier relations between the two countries.

Helberg has been instrumental in the renewed legislative fight against TikTok, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Spearheading the effort to create the bipartisan, bicoastal alliance of China hawks is Jacob Helberg,” the Journal reported in March 2023. The paper noted collaboration between Helberg, previously a policy adviser at Google, and investor and fellow outspoken China hawk Peter Thiel, as well as others in Thiel’s circle. The anti-China coalition, the Journal reported this past week, has been hammering away at a TikTok ban, and Helberg said he has spoken to over 100 members of Congress about the video-sharing social media app.

At a February 2023 panel event, a representative of America’s Frontier Fund, a national security-oriented technology investment fund that pools private capital and federal dollars, said that a war between China and Taiwan would boost the firm’s profits by an order of magnitude. Private sector contributors to America’s Frontier Fund include both Thiel and former Google chair Eric Schmidt, whose China alarmism and defense-spending boosterism rivals Thiel’s — and who similarly stands to personally profit from escalations with China.


Helberg is an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and an Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  He is also co-chairing the Brookings Institution China Strategy Working Group, as well as that think tank's US-France Working Group on China, according to his personal website.

House Select Committee on China Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) has worked closely with Helberg in recent months as part of the effort to ban TikTok from operating in the US while under Chinese ownership.  Gallagher is leaving Congress to take a job at Palantir.

A leading member of Gallagher's "personal brain trust" is Matthew Turpin, a senior adviser at Palantir.  Turpin is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.