The officials from China think that forced sale will make both ByteDance and China appear weak, sources tell Reuters news.
US President Donald Trump said he has told people involved in the sale of the US assets of ByteDance’s TikTok that the deal must be struck by September 15 and the government must be ‘well-compensated,’ or the service in this regard will be closed
China opposes the forced sale of TikTok’s United States operations by its Chinese owner ByteDance and would allow rather shutdown of the short video app in the US, three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters press agency on Friday.
ByteDance has been in talks to sell TikTok’s US business to potential buyers, including Microsoft and Oracle since US President Donald Trump threatened last month to ban the service if it had been not sold.
Trump has given ByteDance a deadline of mid-September to finalize a deal.
However, Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
ByteDance said through a statement to Reuters that the Chinese government had never suggested thereto that it should pack up TikTok in the US or in other markets.
Two of the sources said China was willing to use revisions it made to a technology exports list on August 28 to delay any deal reached by ByteDance, if it had to.
China’s State Council Information Office and its foreign and commerce ministries didn’t immediately answer requests for comment sent after working hours.
Asked on Friday about Trump and TikTok, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing that the US was abusing the concept of national security, and urged it to prevent oppressing foreign companies.
Reuters has reported that TikTok’s prospective buyers were discussing four ways to structure a purchase from ByteDance.
Within these, ByteDance could still push ahead with a sale of TikTok’s US assets without approval from China’s commerce ministry by selling them without key algorithms.
ByteDance and its founder Zhang Yiming was caught in a clash between the world’s two pre-eminent powers.
Trump last month issued two executive orders that require ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US assets or face being banned in the country, where the app is hugely popular among teenagers.
US officials have criticized the app’s security and privacy, suggesting that user data could be shared with Beijing. TikTok has said it would not comply with any request to share user data with the Chinese authorities.
Beijing has said it firmly opposes Trump’s executive orders and on August 28 moved to give itself a say in the process, revising a list of technologies that will need Chinese government approval before they’re exported. Experts said TikTok’s recommendation algorithm would fall under the list.
Chinese regulators said last week the rules were not targeted at specific companies but they reaffirmed their right to enforce them.