Foreign suspicion is hemming in China Inc’s global rise

TEENS EVERYWHERE love lip-synching to TikTok. Parents may be less enamoured of the boppy music-video app, whose popularity has exploded of late. For different reasons, governments appear wary, too. In February TikTok paid a record $5.7m fine in America for illegally collecting data on users under the age of 13. This month an Indian court banned the app on the grounds that it abets sexual predators. Bangladesh and, briefly, Indonesia, have banned it in the past year, alleging it promotes porn.

TikTok is not the only social-media app to perturb regulators concerned about data privacy, fake news or dangerous content. But there is another reason for the attention: TikTok is Chinese. The angst surrounding its parent company, Bytedance, and China’s other tech titans is a measure of their rising global relevance. Five of the ten most popular apps used by Indians last year were Chinese. Two in five TikTok users live in India, Bytedance’s largest market outside China, ahead of America. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent—technology behemoths collectively known as the BATs—hold stakes in 150 companies abroad, according to Abacus, a research arm of the South China Morning Post, a newspaper. Alibaba has 56 data centres overseas. Tencent owns 17.5% of Snap, creator of a popular American messaging app, and 7.5% of Spotify, a Swedish...



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