Chinese govt's nod must to sell TikTok under fresh tech export curbs

China’s foreign ministry and commerce ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A ByteDance representative had no immediate comment when reached by Bloomberg.
ByteDance will be required to seek the Chinese government’s approval to sell the US operations of its short-video TikTok app under new restrictions that Beijing imposed on the export of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

AI interface technologies such as speech and text recognition, and those that analyse data to make personalised content recommendations, were added to a revised list of export-control products published on the Ministry of Commerce’s website late on Friday. Government permits will be required for overseas transfers to “safeguard national economic security,” it said.

The new restrictions cover technologies ByteDance uses in TikTok and will require the company to seek government approval for any deal, according to the person, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The new rule is aimed at delaying the sale and is not an outright ban, the person said.

President Donald Trump’s administration has said ByteDance must sell the US operations of its popular video-sharing app because of alleged national security risks. Microsoft and Oracle have submitted rival bids to ByteDance to acquire TikTok’s US business, while Centricus Asset Management and Triller were said to have made a last-minute pitch on Friday to buy TikTok’s operations in several countries for $20 billion.

China’s foreign ministry and commerce ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A ByteDance representative had no immediate comment when reached by Bloomberg.

ByteDance should study the new export list and “seriously and cautiously” consider whether it should halt negotiations, Cui Fan, a trade expert and professor at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics, told the official Xinhua News Agency. Additional approval in Beijing is likely to delay and possibly undermine any transaction. Because the Chinese government review will take time, the TikTok deal may be delayed until after the US elections in November, the person familiar said.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel