August 10, 2020

TikTok's UK headquarters in doubt amid US pressure

(BBC) – TikTok’s plan to base its international HQ in the UK has been thrown into doubt following pressure by Washington over the Chinese firm’s future in the US.

ByteDance, owner of the video sharing app, has had talks with the government about basing its HQ in London.

But the US is considering banning TikTok and may only allow it to keep operating if it splits from China and becomes an American company.

“We remain fully committed to investing in London,” said a ByteDance spokesman.

A spokeswoman for the Department for International Trade said: “ByteDance’s decision on the location of their global HQ is a commercial decision for the company.”

It comes as tensions mount between the UK and China over the government’s recent decision to order the removal of Huawei’s 5G equipment from Britain’s mobile networks by 2027.

There are fears it could prompt a tit-for-tat economic war between the two countries.

Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, told The Andrew Marr Show: “We are still evaluating the consequences. This is a very bad decision.”

Asked whether China would punish UK companies operating in China, Mr Liu said: “We do not want to politicise the economy. That is wrong.”

But he said: “It is wrong for the United Kingdom to discriminate [against a] Chinese company because of pressure from the United States.”

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