Tiktok's U.S. Operations Deal May Require Beijin's Approval

New Chinese trade restrictions on technology could hinder the imminent sale of TikTok


If a sale of TikTok's U.S. operations is imminent, Chinese restrictions on exports of artificial intelligence technology could be a stumbling block to negotiations.

Revealed Friday by China's ministries of commerce, science and technology, the restrictions limit the types of technology that can be exported from China without a license from the authorities. The list of restricted technologies covers data processing technologies, including text analysis, content recommendations, speech modeling and speech recognition.

According to Chinese government trade adviser Cui Fan, who spoke Saturday to the country's official news agency, Xinhua News Agency, TikTok's owner, ByteDance, must review the new export list and consider "seriously and carefully" whether a license is needed for the technologies sold, and whether to stop negotiations altogether.

In a statement issued Sunday, ByteDance said it was aware of the updated restrictions. The company says it will "strictly" comply with any regulations on technology exports.

The Ministry of Commerce last amended its technology export list in 2008, suggesting the adjustment was important because of the rapid development of technology and "continuous improvement" in China's industrial competitiveness. The list also includes restrictions on laser technologies, cryptography, chip design and other important areas of technological progress.

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