TikTok owner ByteDance to cut down Indian workforce after apps remain banned

China’s ByteDance is cutting the size of its India team and is unsure when it will make a comeback, the company told employees in an internal memo on Wednesday, months after its popular TikTok video app was banned.

The move came after India decided to retain its ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps following responses from the companies on issues such as compliance and privacy. The ban dates from last year when political tension between the neighbours rose over their disputed border.

“We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived…we find that has not been the case,” ByteDance wrote in the memo to staff in India, seen by Reuters. “We simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while our apps remain un-operational…we don’t know when we will make a comeback in India.”

In a statement, Tiktok said it was disappointing that despite its efforts it had not received a clear direction on how and when its apps could be re-instated. “It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2,000-plus employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce,” it said, but gave no further specifics.

At the time of last year’s ban, the Indian government described the apps as “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India”. The move followed a skirmish with Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border site that killed 20 Indian troops.

TikTok had committed to spend $1 billion in the region. Before the ban it had become one of the fastest-growing social media apps in India, once its largest market in terms of users.

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