THE EDGE SINGAPORE - The long-running saga of Chinese short-video sharing app TikTok took a new twist this past week when yet another suitor — database software firm Oracle — jumped into the fray. Is Oracle’s bid for real, or just an effort by TikTok’s parent ByteDance to extract a higher price from the only serious bidder, software giant Microsoft, instead of being forced to dispose of it in a fire sale?

I wrote about TikTok in my column last month but if you have not been following the saga, here is a quick recap: In early August, US President Donald Trump restricted the use of TikTok and super app WeChat in one of the most controversial executive orders of his 3ó-month term. Under the order, after 45 days, all transactions by US entities and individuals will be prohibited on the two apps. On Aug 14, the President also set a 90-day deadline for the sale to be completed. The Trump administration wants TikTok banned because it could be used to extract data from Americans for the use of Chinese security agencies.

The restrictions on TikTok, WeChat and telecom equipment maker Huawei are all part of a simmering cold war between the US and China. In early 2018, the world’s two largest economies took each other on in a trade war that led to tariffs worth hundreds of billions of dollars being slapped on each other’s products. The tensions have since spilled over into the technology arena. A forced sale of TikTok and an escalating tech war will likely lead to Splinternet, a US-led internet and a separate Chinese one.

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