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ByteDance headquarters in Beijing. Photo by AP; illustration by Mike Sullivan
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Beijing Tightens Grip on ByteDance by Quietly Taking Stake, China Board Seat

Photo: ByteDance headquarters in Beijing. Photo by AP; illustration by Mike Sullivan

For months, China has sought to bring its bustling internet sector to heel with an intensifying series of antitrust crackdowns and data security probes. In one example that hasn’t been previously reported, the Chinese government in April quietly took a stake and a board seat in TikTok owner ByteDance’s key Chinese entity, according to corporate records and people with knowledge of the matter.

The move gives Beijing more insight into the inner workings of ByteDance, the world’s most valuable privately held tech company, which owns some of the most popular apps in China, such as Douyin and Toutiao, along with TikTok. The government’s right to one seat on a three-person board of directors at Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd., which holds Chinese business licenses related to Douyin and Toutiao, raises questions about how much more influence Beijing can exert over ByteDance as a whole.

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