Tiktok’s plans to base its international headquarters in the UK are in doubt after the Chinese social-media giant pulled back from talks with the government.
ByteDance – the parent company of the video sharing app used by 13 million people in the UK alone – has been in talks for months with the Department for International Trade and Downing Street officials to discuss expanding its operations.
However, talks have been suspended with ByteDance reportedly citing the “wider political context” after a week that saw Johnson’s government u-turn over Huawei’s role in the 5G network following pressure from the United States.
Chinese ambassador – we do not want to politicise the economy
While a spokesman for ByteDance said the company remains “fully committed to investing in London” tensions between the UK and China are rising as Hong Kong combines with Huawei as major issues of contention.
Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK told Andrew Marr this morning (Sunday) that Beijing is “still evaluating the consequences” of the Huawei ban he added: “This is a very bad decision.”
Asked on whether UK companies in China would be “punished”, Liu said: “We do not want to politicise the economy. That is wrong.”
He added: “It is wrong for the United Kingdom to discriminate [against a] Chinese company because of pressure from the United States.”
That pressure has already seen the US impose sanctions on Huawei , having deemed the Chinese company a “national security risk”, and applied pressure on Downing Street to ban it from the UK’s 5G network.
TikTok data risk for users, says Pompeo
The US is also considering banning TikTok with Secretary of state Mike Pompeo claiming users’ data is at risk of ending up “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.
However, President Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last week he believed “TikTok is going to pull out of the holding company which is China-run and operate as an independent American company.
“That’s a much better solution than banning [or] pushing away,” said Ludlow.
TikTok HQ – 3,000 jobs and 30,000 sq ft offices
Tiktok’s app has been downloaded more than a billion times and its parent company has been “hunting for new 30,000 sq ft offices” in London, reports the Telegraph but their talks with the UK government about the investment have “broken down amid questions over TikTok’s future in Western countries.”
The Guardian reports the collapse of talks threatens the “creation of 3,000 jobs” in London as ByteDance “will now look at rival cities with Dublin, where several staff are already located, understood to be a leading contender.”
A spokesperson for the company said: “The UK is one of our most important markets globally, with a talented and diverse team in London, including senior leadership. UK employees have quadrupled over the last year and we expect continued strong growth.
“We remain fully committed to investing in London and inspiring creativity and bringing joy to our users around the world through our products and platforms.”