Bytedance, the Chinese owner of video app Tiktok, has had its plans to create a new international headquarters in London thrown into doubt by a growing diplomatic crisis and fears it could be blocked in the US.
Tiktok has been in discussions with the UK government over the past few months to locate its headquarters in the capital as part of a strategy to distance itself from its Chinese ownership, Reuters reported.
However, talks have reportedly broken down.
Critics have warned that the video-sharing app, which is popular among teenagers, could pose a security risk due to its links to the Chinese state.
Tiktok is facing heavy scrutiny in Washington over suspicions China could force the company to turn over user data.
Meanwhile, tensions between the UK and China have mounted after the government ordered the removal of Huawei’s equipment from the UK’s 5G network by 2027.
A source told Reuters that the company is largely focused on its issues in the United States over the last few weeks, but has not ruled out London as a potential location for its new headquarters.
TikTok is expected to “significantly” increase the size of its workforce in London and other key locations outside of China over the next several years.
A Bytedance spokesperson said: “The UK is one of our most important markets globally, with a talented and diverse team in London, including senior leadership. UK employees have quadrupled over the last year and we expect continued strong growth.”