LONDON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – TikTok suspended talks to build a global headquarters in the UK, and Communist Party officials in Beijing have warned British companies doing business in China they’re set to face retaliation over the government’s decision to stop working with Huawei Technologies, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.
ByteDance, parent company of the video app, had been in talks with officials from the Department for International Trade and with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office for several months, the newspaper said.
The report suggests the fallout from the UK decision to ban Huawei from its next-generation wireless network could amount to more than just a diplomatic spat.
The UK base was set to create 3,000 jobs, according to the newspaper.
Reuters quoted a source as saying that London was one of the several locations TikTok is considering, as it tries to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.
It was not immediately clear what other locations are under consideration but the company has hired aggressively in California this year, including poaching US-based Kevin Mayer, a former Walt Disney Co executive, to be TikTok’s chief executive.
The UK government has been trying to revive Britain’s reputation as a country open for business following its departure from the European Union, while China has warned Johnson it will face consequences if the UK treats it as a “hostile partner.”
In a separate report that may irk the White House, The Observer newspaper said the government privately told Huawei the decision stemmed partly from US pressure.
British officials reportedly gave the impression that it could be reviewed if President Donald Trump fails to win a second term.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to visit London this week, with China and a US-UK trade deal among the topics up for discussion.