China recently revised its rules around tech exports, according to which TikTok's parent company ByteDance will have to seek Beijing's approval for the sale of TikTok's U.S. operations. This means that matters are going to get tougher and more complicated for ByteDance.
The executive order signed by U.S. president Donald Trump had forced ByteDance to divest TikTok, followed by ByteDance's deal with Microsoft to sell TikTok's U.S. operations to the company.
Amidst the talks, China recently revised a list of technologies that are either banned or restricted for export for the first time in 12 years, and apparently, the changes will be applied to the Chinese-owned app TikTok as well. There are 23 items in the list of technologies that include personal information push services based on data analysis and artificial intelligence interactive interface technology.
According to Cui Fan, a professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, ByteDance will have to go through licensing procedures before exporting its technologies. The preliminary approval process can take up to 30 days.
Cui further noted that ByteDance's development overseas relied on its domestic technology that provided the core algorithm that powers TikTok's "For You" page, which recommends the next video to watch based on the behavior analysis of users. Therefore, ByteDance may need to transfer software codes or usage rights to the new owner of TikTok from China to overseas.
Cui added that ByteDance is recommended to seriously study the revised tech export policy and consider carefully its decision to suspend or not. ByteDance has not yet responded to the statement.
Moreover, China's foreign ministry said that it opposes the Trump administration's order and that Beijing will defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses.