TIKTOK DEAL IS COMPLICATED BY NEW RULES FROM CHINA OVER TECH EXPORTS
On Friday, China updated its export control rules to cover a variety of technologies it deemed sensitive, including technology that sounded much like TikTok’s personalized recommendation engine.
The country’s official Xinhua news agency published a commentary by a professor who said the new rule would mean that the video app’s parent, the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, might need a license to sell its technology to an American suitor.
Beijing’s last-minute assertion of authority is an unexpected wrinkle for a deal as two groups race to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations before the Trump administration bans the app.
Taken together, the rule change and the commentary in official media signaled China’s intention to dictate terms over a potential deal, though experts said it remained unclear whether the Chinese government would go as far as to sink it.
The moves from Beijing ensnare TikTok and potential American buyers, including Microsoft and Oracle, wedging them in the middle of a tussle between the United States and China over the future of global technology. Beijing’s displeasure alone could scare off TikTok’s suitors, many of whom have operations in China.
TikTok is the most globally successful app ever produced by a Chinese company, and the conflict over its fate could further fracture the internet and plunge the world’s two largest economies into a deeper standoff.