China confirms it’ll play a role in the sale of TikTok, report says

William Arsn


Angela Lang/CNET

A Chinese official on Thursday reportedly emphasized the country’s authority to approve or block the sale of some technologies abroad, appearing to confirm that the government plans to play a critical role in any deal to sell off TikTok’s US operations

On Aug. 28, China updated the country’s export-control rules to cover sensitive technology, possibly including algorithms that power TikTok’s recommendations and help boost viral trends. The updated regulations may require Beijing-based ByteDance, which owns TikTok, to obtain a government license before selling the technology.

“If related enterprises are transferring technology abroad during trade, investment or technical cooperation that fall under the regulations, they are advised to immediately consult provincial-level commerce department offices and handle that in accordance with the law,” said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng during a briefing on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. He reportedly added that the new regulations aren’t targeted at specific companies. 

A deal to sell the short-form-video app’s US business was reportedly expected as soon as Tuesday before the new regulations put up a roadblock. Microsoft and Walmart have teamed up for a potential deal, while Oracle and “a third US company” have made bids on TikTok, according to CNBC. 

Citing fears over national security, President Donald Trump last month issued an executive order that would effectively ban the app if its ownership doesn’t change. TikTok is challenging the order in court and has repeatedly said it doesn’t share user data with the Chinese government, one of the main concerns cited by the Trump administration.

TikTok has grown over the past year to more than 100 million users in the US and more than 2 billion downloads around the world, making it a cultural phenomenon, particularly among teenagers.

The company didn’t  immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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