Accusations brought against it that it is completely controlled by the Chinese government have been denied by the video sharing app TikTok.
The company would refuse any request from China to hand over data, said Theo Bertram, TikTok’s head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“The suggestion that we are in any way under the thumb of the Chinese government is completely and utterly false,” he said in an interview to the BBC.
The United States administration under president Donald Trump has raised concerns about national security over the manner in which TikTok handles private data of millions of users of the country. The Trump administration has also raised doubts over the future of the company operating in the US.
Negotiations about basing its international headquarters in London have been held between the United Kingdom government and TikTok owner ByteDance, which is based in Beijing but domiciled in the Cayman Islands.
However banning TikTok completely in the US is being considered by the Trump administration unless the company completely detaches from China and operates as an American company.
There is a risk for the American users of TikTok of their data ending up “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged recently. Pompeo is slated to visit the UK later this week.
No decision about where TikTok wil set up its international headquarters has been taken yet, Bertram said in an interview recently to the BBC.
“We are committed to growing further in the UK,” he however added.
“We would definitely say no to any request for data” even if TikTok is approached by the Chinese government, he added.
“ByteDance’s decision on the location of their global HQ is a commercial decision for the company,” said a spokeswoman for the Department for International Trade of UK.
These debates and news about TikTok’s fresh denial of links with China and speculation of its new international headquarters in London comes at a time when tensions are rising between the UK and China over the decision of the UK government to ban the Chinese telecom equipment making giant Huawei from the country’s mobile networks.
It is feared by some that China could retaliate whit tit-for-tat economic measures against the UK.
This was evident in some of the recent comments made by the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming. In an interview to the BBC, Liu said: “We are still evaluating the consequences. This is a very bad decision.”
About 1,000 employees work with TikTok in Europe with the majority of them based in the UK and Ireland.
If TikTok decides to set up its international headquarters in London, it could lead to creation of about 3,000 jobs, said a report published by The Sunday Times.
The Chinese video-sharing app has become very popular very fast all across the world with it being downloaded more than two billion times.
TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps were banned last month by the Indian government. A ban on TIkTok is also being considered by Australia, which has already banned the Chinese telecom equipment makers Huwei and ZTE.
(Adapted from BBC.com)