Ball to be in Biden's court, TikTok talks likely to continue: analysts

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/6 20:34:20

Photo taken on August 21, 2020 shows a logo of the video-sharing social networking company TikTok's Los Angeles Office in Culver City, Los Angeles County, the United States. TikTok confirmed Saturday that it will file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over an executive order banning any U.S. transactions with its parent company ByteDance. (Xinhua)

Following two earlier extensions, the White House again offered more time for Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok to steer toward a deal instead of being forced to sell its assets in the US.

As negotiations continue, it appears unlikely for the deal to be finalized with a bit more than a month until Joe Biden is sworn into office, so the TikTok ball is set to be in the president-elect's court, analysts said.

The deadline set by the Trump administration for ByteDance, the Chinese parent of TikTok, for the forced sale of TikTok's US assets came on Friday with no deal reached, but no official update was announced that day. The government had previously issued a 15-and seven-day extensions of the deadline, which was originally scheduled for November 12.

Trump opted not to grant ByteDance a new extension of the deadline, but talks will continue over TikTok's fate, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Despite the reported refusal of a further extension, the lack of a specific deadline indicates some easing pressure on the Chinese firm and the two sides are steering toward a deal, analysts told the Global Times on Sunday.

A Treasury Department representative said on Friday that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which is chaired by the Department, "is engaging with ByteDance to complete the divestment and other steps necessary to resolve the national security risks."

Wang Chao, founder of the Wenyuan Institute for Politics and Economics, a Beijing-based think tank, told the Global Times on Sunday that for TikTok, the most hazardous period has passed, when it faced a shutdown threat. It seems US officials also would like a satisfying deal to be reached instead of a forced divestiture.

Talks ground to a halt around the US election, but have picked back up again in recent weeks, with some outstanding issues newly resolved, according to report by Axios. ByteDance has been in talks to finalize a deal with Walmart and Oracle to shift TikTok's US assets into a new entity.

The previous victory of TikTok in court has injected confidence and a sense of calm about the deal, rather than rushing to seek a solution because of worries about being shut down, said He Weiwen, a former senior trade official and an executive council member of the China Society for WTO Studies.

"The company's attitude will have more significance in navigating the deal now," He told the Global Times on Sunday, adding the ball is highly likely to be put into Biden's court, who may continue a crackdown on Chinese high-tech companies, although it will likely be more flexible and rule-based.

The US Commerce Department said in November that it would abide by a Pennsylvania court order not to shut down TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the US.

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