TikTok, a video-sharing application, has denied allegations of Chinese influence.
Theo Bertram, head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says he will reject any request for data from China.
According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), he said: “The suggestion that we are in any way under the thumb of the Chinese government is completely and utterly false.”
The owner of ByteDance, the company that developed the application, who is from the Cayman Islands but lives in Beijing, has been in talks with the British government about setting up headquarters in London.
However, the United States is considering banning TikTok and has decided that the company can be allowed to operate only if it separates from China and becomes an American company.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is visiting the UK this week, has accused the Chinese Communist Party of receiving data of TikTok users in the US.
Theo Bertram told the BBC program that no decision had been made on where TikTok would place its international headquarters, but added that “we are committed to further development in the UK”.
A spokesman for the Department of International Trade said: “Byte Dance’s decision regarding their global headquarters is a business decision for the company.”
Theo Bertram also denied allegations that the TikTok app was too lenient with child molesters.
It should be noted that the Daily Telegraph newspaper had said that it had seen the documents according to which users who send sex messages to children have to commit three crimes before a permanent ban is imposed.
Theo Bertram said TikTok had changed its policy more than a year ago and called such a move intolerable.
He said that any such post would be deleted and the accused would be informed.
However, the latest development comes as tensions between the UK and China are rising over the government’s recent decision to remove Huawei’s 5G equipment from UK mobile networks by 2027.
There are fears that this could lead to an economic war between the two countries.
“We are still evaluating the consequences. This is a very bad decision.,” The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday.
TikTok has about a thousand employees in Europe, most of them based in the UK and Ireland.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, the decision to set up TikTok headquarters in the UK is likely to create 3,000 jobs in the country.
Keep in mind that the Chinese video-sharing platform is very popular all over the world and this app has been downloaded more than two billion times.
India has already banned other Chinese applications, including TikTok.
Australia, which has already banned Huawei and telecom maker ZTE, is also considering banning TikTok.