ByteDance seeks China approval to export TikTok technology

Bloomberg September 24 | Updated on September 24, 2020 Published on September 24, 2020

The logo for ByteDance Ltd's TikTok app   -  Bloomberg

Parent of TikTok files an application to Beijing’s commerce bureau

ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese parent of video app TikTok, submitted an application in Beijing for permission to export technology, as it tries to work out an agreement with the Trump administration that will avoid a US ban on the service.

The Beijing-based company said it filed the request with the city’s commerce bureau after China tightened restrictions on the export of certain technologies, including those used in TikTok. The country asserted it would have to sign off on any deal for TikTok, after the Trump administration pressured ByteDance into ceding control over the wildly popular app.

Also read: Beijing unlikely to approve ByteDance’s TikTok deal with Oracle

TikTok has been caught in the escalating battle between the world’s two most powerful nations. ByteDance worked out an agreement for TikTok with Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. that appeared at first to win Trump’s blessing, but negotiations have been thrown into chaos because of disagreements over the supposed terms. TikTok is scheduled to be banned in the US this weekend if the deal isn’t finalised.

Initially, China seemed likely to approve the TikTok agreement, as long as ByteDance retained control of its technologies. But Chinese state media has voiced increasing opposition to the deal as the Trump administration has expressed demands for more equity in American hands and more control over data and technology.

Also read: ByteDance, Oracle at loggerheads over terms of TikTok agreement

Whether ByteDance ends up with a majority or minority stake in the new TikTok Global, it likely needs government approval.

“ByteDance needs to license to TikTok the use of its software and tech, which is a form of tech export,” said Zhaokang Jiang, a trade attorney and managing partner of GSC Potomac. “It should be covered by China’s export control law.”

ByteDance said it is waiting for a decision from the bureau on acceptance of the application, without giving details of the application.

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Published on September 24, 2020
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