The Chinese entrepreneur behind TikTok took ample precautions when he set out to straddle the tech world's most treacherous divide : the one separating China's tightly controlled interest from the rest of the planet.

He made TikTok unavailable in China so the video apps users wouldn't be subject to the Communist Party's censorship requirements. 

He stored user data in Virginia and Singapore. He hired managers in the United States to run the app and lobbyist in Washington to fight for it.

None of that counted for much in the end. With TikTok now negotiating a sale to Microsoft under intense pressure from president Trump, who said just recently :

That he was giving the go ahead to such a deal, the digital wall between China and the United States is proving to be higher than ever at the moment of widening conflict between the two countries.

Only this time, it is the U.S. not China's that is putting up the barricades - an escalation that could foreshadow an even more restrictive time for companies in both nations.

ByteDance, the eight-year old Chinese social media giant behind TikTok, is China's first truly global Internet success story.

The company's founder, Zhang Yiming 37, began pushing to expand overseas early on, believing that only a company with worldwide reach could remain on the technological edge.

But TikTok ended up resonating with American teenagers when even a platform for short viral videos is subject to political scrutiny. Under China's leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist party has emphasized its ultimate authority over Chinese people and businesses.

Suspicion never dissipated that  TikTok - no matter how many non-Chinese executives it put in charge - might unable to withstand the pressure from Beijing to surrender users data or manipulate content.

Similar doubts already hang over many other Chinese tech companies. TikTok's sudden change of fortune could force them to their own international ambitions.

Chibo Tang, a partner in Hong Kong at venture capital firm Gobu Partners, said that that increasingly his advice to Chinese tech companies is to steer clear of the United States when expanding overseas - to follow instead the Chinese government's diplomatic overtures and investments in places such as Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.

''If you want to go out and tackle more difficult markets, sure, but obviously there's consequences and additional costs,'' Mr. Tang said. ''Going forward, Chinese entrepreneurs in these tech companies should be aware of that.''

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Tech companies and barriers in the Global markets, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Raymond Zhong.


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