Chinese government reportedly would rather TikTok shut down than be sold

Officials are worried a sale will make ByteDance and China "appear weak."

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Karissa Bell
September 11th, 2020
CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on August 27, 2020 in Culver City, California. The Chinese-owned company is reportedly set to announce the sale of U.S. operations of its popular social media app in the coming weeks following threats of a shutdown by the Trump administration. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama via Getty Images

China could throw yet another wrench in TikTok’s attempts to secure its future in the US. Officials in the country are opposed to a sale and would rather see the app be banned than sold to an American company, Reuters reports.

The report, which cites “three people with direct knowledge of the matter,” says that “Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington.” 

It also comes just days ahead of Donald Trump’s Sept. 15 deadline for TikTok to find a new home with an American company. Experts have said it’s unlikely a deal could materialize that quickly, but Trump said Thursday he would not extend the deadline. 

Further complicating things are new trade rules in China, which could prevent a buyer from acquiring TikTok’s recommendation algorithm. Reuters reports that China is prepared to use the policy to “delay any deal reached by ByteDance, if it had to.”

The company is currently entertaining offers from Oracle, and Microsoft and Walmart, who have teamed up on a bid. Current TikTok owner ByteDance is reportedly considering deals that wouldn’t include the app’s algorithm.

“The Chinese government has never suggested to us that the company should shut down TikTok in the US or any other market,” a ByteDance spokesperson said in a statement. TikTok’s current top executive in the US, Vanessa Pappas, previously said the company believes it has “multiple paths forward” that will allow the app to remain in the US.

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