ByteDance’s future in the US at a critical stage with new seven-day extension of TikTok sale order

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/26 11:02:50

WeChat TikTok Photo:VCG

The US has reportedly granted ByteDance - the parent company of TikTok - a new seven-day extension of an order that directs the Chinese tech firm to divest its short video-sharing app. 

The extension, which comes at a time when US President Donald Trump's administration signaled the beginning of a handover to an incoming Biden administration, indicates that the embattled Chinese firm's destiny in the US is at a critical stage despite this latest respite, analysts said. 

It's critical for ByteDance to endure the final days that Trump remains in office, as President-elected Biden is expected to take a milder approach on the issue and make concessions to reach a deal with the Chinese side, observers stressed.

Following the extension, the new deadline is now set for December 4. This is the second time that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CIFUS) has granted the Chinese firm additional time to finalize a deal. The Trump administration had previously granted ByteDance a 15-day extension, which was set to expire Friday.

The US Treasury stated the extension was granted "to allow time to review a revised submission that (CIFUS) recently received," the Financial Times reported. 

In August, Trump had ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok unless it reached a deal with US regulators within 90 days, alleging that the app presents a national security threat to the US. 

ByteDance has not responded to an interview request from the Global Times as of press time.

"The extension of the deadline is very tight, just like a sword of Damocles hanging over the head. Washington is still taking a maximum pressure approach on TikTok, and this strategy will see a fundamental shift until Biden takes office," Fang Xingdong, founder of Beijing-based technology think tank ChinaLabs, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Chinese tech industry insiders predict that an incoming Biden Administration is poised to soften the current stance toward the TikTok deal. 

"Biden is rational and milder, and he will consider the interests of US companies. He seems - at least - willing to communicate with Beijing and possibly make concessions," Fang said, while noting that the President-elected could still remain tough on issues concerning US national security, which is not the case in the TikTok sale.

ByteDance disclosed on November 10 that it has submitted four proposals to address US concerns, including one that proposes the creation of a new entity. Under the plan, TikTok will outsource its US users' data and content moderation business to the new entity, with the app continuing to operating other businesses. 

Chinese analysts said that Biden may accept such proposal as it resolves security issues. "The bottom line for ByteDance is to retain control of its core technology and a leadership over its US business," Fang said.

In November, ByteDance and TikTok filed a new petition to US court as a defensive move against US President Donald Trump's second executive order targeted at the video-sharing app.

Global Times


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