The Chinese government would reportedly rather see TikTok banned in the United States than allow a forced sale of the app to a US company.
The popular video platform’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, for the past month has been in discussions to sell its US business after President Trump issued an executive order banning TikTok if a deal was not reached by the middle of September.
But Chinese officials oppose a forced sale, believing it would make both ByteDance and China appear weak, three people with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters. ByteDance said in a statement that Beijing has never suggested that it shut down TikTok in the US or any other markets.
Two of the sources said China was 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.
TikTok would lose more than 100 million users if the app is banned in the United States.
Beijing last month introduced export restrictions on artificial intelligence technology, seemingly including the algorithm that TikTok uses to determine which videos to show each user. That means ByteDance would have to obtain a license to export any restricted technologies to a foreign company.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that even if ByteDance were to reach a deal for a sale to an American company — likely Microsoft MSFT, -0.65% or Oracle ORCL, -0.57% — it would not be able to get a transaction done in time to meet the Trump administration’s deadline.
Trump and other US officials have expressed concern that Beijing could force TikTok to hand over sensitive user data. TikTok has insisted it has never provided user data to China and that it would not do so if asked.
A sale of the popular video app has appeared imminent for weeks since CEO Kevin Mayer quit his post after just three months when he was reportedly left out of sale negotiations with both Microsoft and Oracle.
Asked on Friday about Trump and TikTok, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing that the United States was abusing the concept of national security, and urged it to stop oppressing foreign companies.
Shares of Microsoft were down 1.4 percent Friday afternoon. A representative for TikTok did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.