Before TikTok became TikTok, it was a Shanghai-based lip-synching app called Musical.ly.
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. Image Credit: Stock image

London: 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 Co., the Sunday Times reported.

ByteDance Ltd., 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, according the newspaper. The new base was set to create 3,000 jobs.

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 government is 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 U.K. treats it as a "hostile partner."

US pressure

In a separate report that may irk the White House, the Observer newspaper said the government privately told Huawei the decision stemmed partly from U.S. 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 U.S.-U.K. trade deal among the topics up for discussion.

Global locations

Reports said last week TikTok has been in discussions with the UK government over the past few months to locate its headquarters in London as part of a strategy to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.

It was not immediately clear what other locations are under consideration. But it has hired aggressively in California this year, including poaching Kevin Mayer, a former Walt Disney Co executive, to be TikTok's chief executive. He is based in the United States.

TikTok is facing heavy scrutiny in Washington over suspicions China could force the company to turn over user data.

TikTok is owned by China-based ByteDance.