TikTok’s owners are currently being forced to sell their overseas operations by the US Government, who cite security concerns.
Until recently the Chinese government has been rather passive about the whole affair, but two weeks ago China updated its list of their export restrictions, to include “personalized push technology based on data analysis“, a move which is felt to be targetted directly at the sale of TikTok.
Today Reuters reports that China would rather see TikTok U.S. close than a forced sale.
Reuters report that Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington.
China is therefore willing to use revisions it made to a technology exports list on Aug. 28 to delay any deal reached by ByteDance, if it had to.
Bytedance currently has until the 12th November to close the deal, with an ever-changing roster of potential purchases ranging from Oracle to Microsoft to Twitter and more all vying for the property. President Trump has indicated this deadline will not be extended, and if not met TikTok US would be shut down.
This would result in the loss of tens of billions of dollars in value, but it appears China feels saving face is more valuable.
An alternative would be selling TikTok without its personalization algorithm, but New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose has argued that TikTok’s algorithms “could be the most valuable asset the company owns,” meaning TikTok without its secret sauce would just be a shell of its former self.