TikTok has halted all its operations in Hong Kong, pulling the app from the city following a national security law imposed by China.
The video app, owned by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance, announced on Tuesday that it would withdraw from Hong Kong “in light of recent events” that has seen the city subject to sweeping new measures that give the Chinese government more control over it.
In a post on its website on Friday, the company said: “We regret to inform you that we have discontinued operating TikTok in Hong Kong.”
The app can no longer be downloaded on Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store in Hong Kong, and citizens who had already downloaded the app can no longer use it.
TikTok’s decision to stop its services in Hong Kong come as other tech firms, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, are reviewing their current position in the city over concerns that China’s new law restricts freedoms.
Critics have claimed that the legislation could see data privacy violated and could curb freedom of speech as the ban criminalises secession and subversion, as well a collusion with foreign forces.
The app has seen soaring popularity since the start of lockdown with people stuck turning to it for entertainment. It has over 150,000 users in Hong Kong, and a monthly active user base of 800m users globally.
But it has come under scrutiny itself in the US, where it faces a potential ban after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited concerns over national security and the company’s handling of user data, claiming people should only use it if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.
TikTok has denied all suggestions that it colludes with the Chinese government and hands them data.