China has revised its export control rules to enable some technology companies to obtain licensing permission if they wish to sell the technology to an American buyer, adding yet another wrinkle to the potential sale of TikTok’s US operations.
According to a report from the New York Times, the country’s official Xinhua news agency also published a statement that the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, might be required to obtain a license to sell the technology to a US company.
The updated export rules reportedly add 23 items to the list of technologies requiring licensing approval, including technologies such as personal information push services and artificial intelligence interactive interface technology.
The reforms to China’s export rules come less than a week after Kevin Mayar, the former CEO of TikTok, said in his letter of resignation to workers that the company was expecting “to come to a resolution very soon.”
“In recent weeks, as the political climate has changed dramatically, I have considerably reflected on what the systemic changes in companies would take, and what that means for the global position I have signed up for,” Mayar wrote.
“Faced with this backdrop, and as we expect a settlement to be found very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I decided to quit the firm.”
Currently the 15-second video platform has two key suitors, Microsoft and Oracle.
There were rumors last week that Microsoft had teamed up with Walmart to be a possible suitor for TikTok’s operations in the United States, Canada , Australia and New Zealand. Oracle, meanwhile, has reportedly been in preliminary talks since mid-August about acquiring TikTok.
All three firms are based in the US.
Against the backdrop of the executive orders of US President Donald Trump that will ban TikTok in mid-September, the revised export rules put both TikTok and its suitors in a pinch as Beijing may have the power to block the sale if a license is not issued.
At the beginning of the month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the executive orders discussing what he has described as the threat faced by apps like TikTok and WeChat.
The president called the Chinese pair of apps a “national emergency” about information and communications technology and the supply chain for services.
“TikTok automatically gathers large swaths of information from its users, including information about internet and other network operation such as location data and browsing and search history,” said the first order.
“This data collection threatens to empower the Chinese Communist Party to access the personal and confidential information of Americans — potentially enabling China to monitor federal employees and contractors’ locations, create blackmail personal information records and conduct espionage.”
TikTok clocked more than 175 million downloads in the US, and about 800 million worldwide.