Exclusive: TikTok announces its exit from the Hong Kong market in a few days

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market in a few days, a spokesperson told Reuters on Monday while other tech companies, including Facebook Inc (FB.O) have suspended the processing of government requests for user data in the region.

FILE PHOTO: A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken on January 6, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo

The short form video application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance made the decision to leave the region after China implemented a new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

“In light of recent events, we have decided to stop the TikTok app’s operations in Hong Kong,” said a TikTok spokesperson in response to a question from Reuters about its market engagement.

The company, now run by the former Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) Kevin Mayer, an executive, has stated in the past that the user data for the application is not stored in China.

TikTok has also previously stated that it will not respond to any request from the Chinese government to censor content or access TikTok user data, and has never been asked to do so.

The Hong Kong region is a small loss-making market for the company, said a source familiar with the matter. Last August, TikTok announced that it had attracted 150,000 users to Hong Kong.

Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times via Apple (AAPL.O) a Google (GOOGL.O) application stores after the first quarter of this year, according to the analyst firm Sensor Tower.

The source said the move was made because it was unclear whether Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction.

TikTok was designed not to be accessible to mainland China. It was part of a strategy to attract a more global audience.

ByteDance operates a similar short video sharing application called Douyin in China.

Although there are currently no plans to introduce Douyin to the Hong Kong market, said a ByteDance spokesperson, the app already has a large following in the Asian financial center, with Chinese on the continent traveling and staying in Hong Kong.

Report by Echo Wang; Editing by Kenneth Li and Jacqueline Wong

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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