China says it will firmly oppose the forced sale of TikTok
China has said it will oppose U.S. efforts to force the sale of TikTok, in a public rebuke of the Biden administration that leaves Chinese ownership of the app stuck between the orders of the governments of the two most major economies of the world.
The comments, made by China’s Commerce Ministry on Thursday, came hours before TikTok’s chief executive will testify before Congress for the first time, addressing US lawmakers’ mistrust of handling user data. Americans by the popular short-form video app.
A Commerce Ministry spokeswoman told a press conference that China would “strongly oppose” the sale of the app. Forcing such a transaction would “seriously undermine the confidence of investors from various countries, including China, to invest in the United States,” she added.
Last week, news emerged that the Biden administration wanted TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a possible ban. The ultimatum said negotiations between the White House and TikTok ownership over a less severe compromise had stalled.
US lawmakers and regulators fear that the Chinese government’s broad power over the country’s private companies could give authorities in Beijing access to US user data.
China’s Commerce Ministry said any sale involving the export of technology must be “in accordance with Chinese laws”, suggesting the Chinese government could block any effort by ByteDance to divest TikTok. This could jeopardize TikTok’s efforts to convince US officials of its independence from Beijing.
Following a previous attempt by the Trump administration to force the sale of TikTok, in 2020 China revised a list of protected technologies that analysts said would require ByteDance to seek permission from the Chinese government to sell the app. to an American buyer. TikTok’s most valuable technology is its invaluable recommendation algorithm, the source of its success in attracting and retaining users around the world.
TikTok introduced a proposal last year, called Project Texas, to assuage US officials’ national security concerns. TikTok would remain owned by ByteDance, but put all US user-generated data on national servers operated and managed by Oracle, the software giant in Austin, Texas. Only Oracle and TikTok employees based in the United States would have access to US user accounts and data, TikTok said.
Mr. Chew is expected to continue promoting the plan in his testimony before Congress, where lawmakers are expected to ask him tough questions about the company’s efforts to secure US user data, its ties to its Chinese parent company and the risks that the application can pose for teenagers and children.
In his written testimony before the hearing, Mr. Chew said that ByteDance is a global company owned by international investors as well as employees. “Let me say this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” he said.
TikTok and ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Leave a Reply