The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Chinese Internet giant ByteDance is in talks with the US about ways it might avoid having to sell its TikTok operations here.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between Washington and Beijing, and President Donald Trump gave Americans a deadline to stop doing business with TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, effectively compelling a sale of the app to a US company.

Walmart has also joined forces with Microsoft in negotiations to buy TikTok. Oracle is also reported to be interested in TikTok.

TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the crackdown by the US government.

The suit contends that Trump’s order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform is not “an unusual and extraordinary threat.”

Trump alleges that TikTok could be used by China to track the locations of federal employees, build dossiers on people for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.

TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing data with Beijing.

According to the Journal report, talks between ByteDance and the US have been taking place for months but have grown more urgent as the deadline set by Trump nears.

The Journal reported, citing someone familiar with the matter that at least one of TikTok’s major investors was part of a group that met recently with representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency to discuss data security.

Last week, Trump repeated his demand for a piece of the action from any sale of TikTok’s US operations for forcing such a deal.

Trump told journalists that “Well, I told them that they have until September 15th to make a deal; after that, we close it up in this country. And I said that the United States has to be compensated – well compensated – because we are the ones that are making it possible, and so we should be compensated.”

Meanwhile, ByteDance has vowed to “strictly abide” by new export rules in China which could potentially complicate a sale of the business as demanded by Trump.

China’s commerce ministry added “civilian use” to a list of technologies that are restricted for export.

The new regulations could make it more difficult for ByteDance to sell the wildly popular video app, which features clips of everything from dance routines and hair-dye tutorials to jokes about daily life and politics.


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