TikTok announces its exit from the Hong Kong market within a few days

NEW YORK (Reuters) – TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market in a few days, a spokesperson for Reuters told reporters on Monday as other tech companies, including Facebook Inc, suspended processing government data requests. users in the region.

The abbreviated video application belonging to the Chinese company ByteDance made the decision to leave the region after the implementation by China of a new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

“In light of recent events, we have decided to stop the TikTok app’s operations in Hong Kong,” said a TikTok spokesperson in response to a question from Reuters about its market engagement.

The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co chief Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.

TikTok has also previously stated that it will not respond to any request from the Chinese government to censor content or access TikTok user data, and has never been asked to do so.

The Hong Kong region is a small loss-making market for the company, said a source familiar with the matter. Last August, TikTok announced that it had attracted 150,000 users to Hong Kong.

Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times via Apple and Google app stores after the first quarter of this year, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

The source said the decision was made because it was unclear whether Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction in light of the new law.

TikTok was designed not to be accessible to mainland China. It was part of a strategy to attract a more global audience. Its equivalent on the continent is called Douyin.

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There are currently no plans to introduce Douyin to the Hong Kong market, said a spokesman for ByteDance.

Although Douyin is not available on application stores abroad, it has gathered more users than TikTok in Hong Kong, according to a second source close to the situation. Mainland Chinese users can download the app while on the mainland or by switching accounts.

“Douyin has many users in Hong Kong and will continue to serve users there,” said ByteDance China CEO Zhang Nan.

Fang Kecheng, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the TikTok decision highlighted the dilemma facing Chinese companies trying to internationalize, adding that it was “inevitable”.

“You must follow local policies and try not to offend the Chinese government and the public. The separation of TikTok by ByteDance (from Douyin) was the same strategy. ”

Source: Reuters

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