But the fact that the industry regulator can designate someone to the board of a prominent sector player may unsettle investors worried about the broader ramifications of Beijing’s clampdown. Even before Xi’s administration tightened its grip on the tech sector, ByteDance had grappled with American lawmakers’ accusations that TikTok in particular threatens national security and could aid Beijing in espionage efforts. In May, the month after the Chinese regulator took its stake, founder Zhang Yiming relinquished day-to-day control of his company to its closest lieutenant, a decision regarded as an attempt to distance himself from the growing turbulence at home and abroad.
“It intensifies worries about the government’s intentions for China’s internet sector and the concessions private firms may have to make,” said Michael Norris at consultancy AgencyChina. “It gives new context to Zhang Yiming’s decision to step down from his position as ByteDance’s CEO.”
It seems like the world is finally waking up to overt Communist Party control of Chinese corporations. This has been going on for years. In 2019 the government placed party disciplinary officials in more than 100 large companies, including both Alibaba and Tencent. At the time that was viewed as an acceleration of the already existing trend. Here is a link to Comment of the Day on September 23rd 2019.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top