The ByteDance group has been discussing the sale of TikTok’s US division to potential buyers, including Microsoft and Oracle, since President Donald Trump threatened last month to ban the service if it is not sold.
Trump has given ByteDance a deadline of mid-September to finalize the sale deal.
However, Chinese officials believe that a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the situation.
ByteDance said in a statement to Reuters that the Chinese government had never suggested that it should close TikTok in the United States or any other market.
Two sources said China is willing to use the August 28 changes to a list of technology exports to delay any agreement by ByteDance if needed.
The information office of the Chinese State Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not immediately respond to requests for comments sent after the work schedule.
Asked on Friday about Trump and TikTok, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a regular press briefing that the United States is abusing the concept of national security and urging them to stop oppressing foreign companies.
Reuters reported that potential TikTok buyers were discussing four ways to structure ByteDance’s acquisition.
Under them, ByteDance could continue to sell US TikTok assets without the approval of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, but without key algorithms.
ByteDance and its founder Zhang Yiming are caught in a clash between the two great powers of the world.
Last month, Trump issued two decrees requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US assets or close them in the United States, where the app is extremely popular with teens.
US officials have criticized the security and confidentiality of the application, suggesting that user data could be transmitted to Beijing. TikTok said it would not comply with any request to share user data with Chinese authorities.
Beijing has said it strongly opposes Trump’s decrees, and on August 28 decided to get involved in the process, reviewing a list of technologies that will need Chinese government approval before they can be exported. Experts said TikTok’s recommendation algorithm will be included in this list.
Chinese regulators said last week that the rules do not apply to certain companies, but reaffirmed their right to enforce them.