China says it ‘firmly opposes’ a potential forced sale of TikTok
- The comments came as TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified in front of US lawmakers amid mounting scrutiny over the app’s ties to Beijing.
- China’s commerce ministry said Thursday that a forced sale of TikTok would “seriously damage” global investors’ confidence in the United States.
said it would “firmly oppose” any forced
sale of TikTok, in its first direct response to demands by the Biden
administration that the app’s Chinese owners sell their share of the company or
face a ban in its most important market.
came as TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified
in front of US lawmakers amid mounting scrutiny over the app’s
ties to Beijing.
commerce ministry said Thursday that a forced sale of TikTok would “seriously
damage” global investors’ confidence in the United States.
“If the news
[about a forced sale] is true, China will firmly oppose it,” Shu Jueting, a
spokeswoman for the ministry, told a Thursday news conference in Beijing,
adding that any potential deal would need approval from the Chinese government.
“The sale or
divestiture of TikTok involves technology export, and administrative licensing
procedures must be performed in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations,”
government will make a decision in accordance with the law.”
Previously, Beijing didn’t weigh in directly on a potential
forced sale. However, starting in 2020, it had signaled it wanted to protect
Chinese technology by adding recommendation algorithms, which could include
TikTok’s, to a list of technologies restricted for export.
Thursday, Chew, in his first congressional hearing, sought to provide nuanced
answers and tried to assuage lawmakers’ worries about the company and its
parent, Beijing-based Bytedance.
But he was
frequently interrupted and called evasive by lawmakers. After more than five
hours of testimony, the lawmakers expressed deep skepticism about his company’s
attempts to protect US user data and ease concerns about its ties to China.
That means there
will likely be more calls by Washington to ban TikTok if the company does not
spin itself off from its Chinese parent, analysts said.
Chinese government may have veto power on the sale, according to Shu’s latest
response and Beijing’s previous actions.
Chinese officials proposed tightening the rules that govern the sale of
content-based recommendation algorithms to foreign buyers.
algorithms, which keep users glued to the app, are believed to be key to its
success. The algorithms give recommendations based on users’ behavior, thus
pushing videos they actually like and want to watch.
regulators first added algorithms to the restricted list of technologies in
August 2020, when the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok unless it
legal experts believe that
Beijing may ultimately prefer for TikTok to leave the US market rather than
surrender its algorithm.
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