BEIJING, – The Chinese head of TikTok has defended plans to sell its US operations, describing a deal as the only way to prevent the app from being banned in the US.
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In a letter to Chinese staff, Zhang Yiming said the critics do not see the “full context”.
The letter comes as US President Donald Trump has threatened to bar the social media company.
Chinese state media have said such pressure amounts to “theft”.
On social media, Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, has also been described as a “traitor”.
In the letter to staff, which was shared by the company, he acknowledged the criticism, but said “many people misunderstand the current, complex situation”.
He reminded staff of the firm’s global ambitions and noted a rise in anti-Chinese sentiment around the world, including in the US and India.
“As a company, we have to abide by the laws of the markets where we operate,” he said. “It feels like the goal was not necessarily a forced sale, but given the current macro situation, a ban or even more.”