TikTok applies for Chinese tech license to secure deal
TikTok’s owner said on Thursday it has applied for a Chinese technology export license as it tries to complete a deal with Oracle and Walmart to keep the video app operating in the United States.
ByteDance submitted the application to Beijing’s municipal commerce bureau and is awaiting a decision, it said on its Toutiao online news platform on Thursday, without referring to ongoing talks over its US operations.
The application comes about a month after China revised its list of technologies subject to export bans or restrictions, in a manner which experts said gave the government a say over any TikTok deal. It can take up to 30 days to obtain preliminary approval to export such technology.
Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that the application has been received and would be handled in accordance with relevant regulations and procedures.
ByteDance has said its deal with Oracle and Walmart will see the creation of a standalone US company and does not involve any transfer of technology, though Oracle will be able to inspect TikTok US source code.
It has also said the deal needs approval from both China and the United States.
Chinese foreign ministry said China will “take necessary measures” to safeguard its companies. A ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, called on Washington to “respect the principles of market economy and fair competition” and “provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment” for foreign companies.
TikTok has been embroiled in the latest US restrictions on Chinese tech companies. On August 6, the Trump administration announced a ban on US transactions with TikTok starting September 20. The Department of Commerce later delayed the ban for a week until September 27 after ByteDance, Walmart and Oracle stuck the deal.
Trump signed another executive order on August 14 giving ByteDance 90 days to relinquish ownership of TikTok.
The White House says the video service is a security risk because the personal information of its millions of US users could be handed over to Chinese authorities.
It has offered no specifics to substantiate that charge and the company has denied the accusations.
TikTok asked a US judge on Wednesday to block an order from Trump’s administration that would require Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to remove its short video-sharing app for new downloads from Sunday.
In its filing in federal court in the District of Columbia, TikTok said Trump’s August 6 executive order is unlawful. So are resulting commerce department prohibitions that aim to kick TikTok out of US app stores and, in November, essentially shut it down in the US.
TikTok said the restrictions “were not motivated by a genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election.”
TikTok said if the order is not blocked “hundreds of millions of Americans who have not yet downloaded TikTok will be shut out of this large and diverse online community — six weeks before a national election.”
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang said China supports companies’ use of relevant legal weapons to uphold their rights.