According to reports, officials in China would rather have TikTok shut down its operations in the U.S. than have Beijing-headquartered ByteDance be forced into a sale. That news was reported on Friday by Reuters, with the news outlet citing "three people with direct knowledge of the matter."
Discussions regarding the sale of TikTok's U.S. business have been in progress since President Trump made a threat last month to ban the service if a sale wasn't finalized. A deadline to do just that was set for mid-September, which is upcoming, according to a calendar with direct knowledge of the matter.
Companies that were being reported as potential buyers include Oracle and Microsoft, among others.
The most recent reports relaying Beijing's preferences state that officials think a forced sale would make the country (and ByteDance) look like they were capitulating to Washington.
ByteDance also released a statement to Reuters saying the Chinese government hasn't signaled that it be shutting down TikTok in any markets, including the U.S.
Two of the three sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China would be willing to use revisions from a technology exports list to postpone a deal if ByteDance were to reach one. That list was altered on Aug. 28 as a result of Beijing's disapproval of Trump's executive orders. It was done in an effort to give the government a say in the sales process by revising a list of technologies that need approval from China's government before they can be exported. Those familiar with the list say TikTok's recommendations algorithm is on the list.
It was previously reported that prospective buyers had discussed four ways in which they could acquire TikTok, with at least one of these ways including a sale that doesn't need approval from China’s commerce ministry if it comes without "key algorithms."
The app has been criticized by U.S. officials who say that it may be sharing data with the Chinese government. TikTok has disputed those claims by saying it wouldn't act in accordance with any request from said government to share user data.