The move comes as other huge social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter voiced concerns over the new legislation and the possibility of providing user data to Hong Kong authorities.
TikTok’s withdrawal could be a boon for the ruling Community Party in China, as it was a huge platform for pro-democracy protestors who would use the app to call for Hong Kong independence.
But the company has insisted that it operates independently of Beijing, despite its Chinese ownership.
TikTok has said in a statement that it had decided to halt operations “in light of recent events”.
The short-video platform is run by former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer. The company has been clear in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China, nor has it ever been asked to censor content or give up users’ data.
However, the new national security law in Hong Kong has given Chinese authorities sweeping new powers, which has raised concerns over user data and privacy.
The fear is that the law undermines the special freedoms of Hong Kong, which has operated under a “one country, two systems” framework since China took control in 1997.
Facebook and its messaging app WhatsApp said in separate statements that it would freeze the review of government requests for user data in Hong Kong, “pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts”.
In the communist-ruled mainland, foreign social media platforms are blocked by China’s “Great Firewall”.
Last year, Hong Kong was rocked with massive anti-government protests as the island’s residents reacted to proposed extradition law, which would have led to some suspects facing trial in mainland Chinese courts.
The legislation has since been withdrawn.