Sometimes it seems like Beijing is working at odds with its tech giants.
Much of TikTok’s last year has been characterized by efforts to show it’s keeping a safe distance from the Chinese Communist Party, despite being owned by Chinese social media firm ByteDance. The latest iteration of that is TikTok’s deal with Oracle that will reportedly set up a new US entity to house the short video app, with the US software giant taking a minority stake and managing user data. But an “opinion” issued by the Communist Party, and publicized this week, might make it hard for TikTok to argue it’s fine for it to continue to be largely owned by ByteDance.
The proposed deal’s structure is already shaped by Beijing’s refusal to allow the US alone to determine TikTok’s fate. China made an outright sale difficult by imposing export controls on algorithms such as those used in the app. Following that, the Party this week spelled out its philosophy that the private sector and entrepreneurs must align ever more closely with its goals of advancing China’s development and “rejuvenating” the Chinese nation.
“With the expansion of the private economy there has been a clear increase in risks and challenges, while the values and pursuit of interests of private entrepreneurs are also diversifying, which has posed a new situation and tasks for the Party’s work,” said the guidelines issued by the Communist Party’s central committee, a grouping of some 200 or so top members, ahead of a conference on the issue on Wednesday.