By Yingzhi Yang, Yew Lun Tian and Julie Zhu
BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming has long positioned himself as a global internet entrepreneur, largely eschewing Chinese government involvement, but U.S. demands to sell his crown jewel TikTok are testing the boundaries with Beijing.
A year ago, ByteDance was approached by the Chinese government with offers of help when TikTok, a short-video app with a huge following among young people globally, faced political heat in India, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters. But the company sent only mid-level staff to meet with government officials, signalling that the company wanted to go it alone.
The 38-year-old Zhang, who has trodden a different path to other high-profile Chinese tech tycoons, shifted tack in August when President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States unless it was sold to a U.S. firm.
Zhang’s team sought a