Will TikTok Derail US-China Trade Talks?

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Will TikTok Derail US-China Trade Talks?

In the latest and perhaps most bizarre development in the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, the Chinese government has announced new sweeping restrictions on exports to the US that could complicate sales plans by the Chinese owners of social media app TikTok.

At the beginning of the month, it was announced that Donald Trump would ban the app in the United States – a decision that is largely seen to be linked to the ongoing dispute on trade between the two countries.

But, with new restrictions being introduced late on Friday by the Chinese government, the complicated sale of the app could become even more tangled.

Tech Exports

Under these new restrictions, any technology company wishing to export outside of China will have to seek permission from the government, which can take up to 30 days.

The laws also exempt certain technologies from regulation – including vaccine technologies – though will now include recent technology innovations like voice recognition and AI tech.

ByteDance, the company which owns TikTok, was given only 90 days in August to find a seller or risk being banned in the United States for good – a decision that the company are currently suing Trump for in the US courts.

Perhaps the biggest hint that this is a direct retaliation to the United States’ demand is that laws about exporting in tech haven’t changed in 12 years – the last adjustment was made in 2008.

TikTok Buyers

Currently, several interested buyers in the company have been made public – from Microsoft to Walmart – with many interested in investing in the hugely popular app, but new regulations from China now put serious doubts over whether the company will be able to sell before the 90-day deadline.

ByteDance stated that they were aware of the new changes and will follow the regulations as necessary.

TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing social media apps over the course of 2020, becoming prominent at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in the West.

According to Donald Trump, the app poses ‘national security threats’, though many believe it is a response to TikTok activity that affected his own campaign. Via an executive order, Trump also banned the Chinese app WeChat.