TikTok: China prefers shutdown than forced sale in US

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to reports, China is not in favor of a forced sale of the popular video sharing app TikTok’s US operation.

In fact, they would rather prefer the parent company ByteDance to shut down the video app in the US.

ByteDance is in talks to sell TikTok’s US business to buyers, including Microsoft and Oracle, after US President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app if it was not sold to an American firm. Trump gave ByteDance a mid-September deadline to finalize the agreement.

Recent reports had revealed that ByteDance is in discussions with the US government to avoid a complete sale of the app and retain some of its assets.

Chinese officials believe the decision to sell the US operations under pressure would portray ByteDance and the country as being weak, said the reports.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, while commenting on the Trump and TikTok issue, said that the United States is abusing the concept of national security and he demanded an end to the repression of foreign companies.

China’s State Council Information Office and its foreign ministries did not offer any comments regarding the issue.

But ByteDance dismissed the reports in a statement. “The Chinese government has never suggested closing down TikTok in the US or any other market,” the statement said.

The US Deal

According to the reports, prospective buyers of TikTok are discussing four ways to acquire it from ByteDance. Within these, ByteDance can still sell Tiktok’s US assets by selling them without sharing its algorithms and hence, without the approval of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

App Ban

Last month Trump issued two executive orders forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US assets failing which it will be banned in the country, where the app is widely popular, especially among youth.

US officials criticized the app’s data collection and accused it of sharing them with the Chinese government thus endangering the security and privacy of the country.

But TikTok has dismissed the accusation. Meanwhile China has announced that it strongly opposes Trump’s executive orders and on August 28 moved to give itself a say in the process by revising the list of technologies that would need Chinese government approval before being exported. Experts said that the TikTok recommendation algorithm falls under this list.