The continuing uncertainty surrounding the proposed deal with Oracle and Walmart for TikTok’s assets in the United States highlights an issue in China-US relations that concerns global economic development. That is Beijing’s updating and expansion of China’s export control list in the tech war with the US. The revision, prompted by the inclusion of technology used by TikTok, not only raises uncertainties about the sale and delays it until after November’s US election at the earliest. It also heightens concerns about the risk of technology protectionism and raises more questions for both Chinese companies operating overseas and multinationals with intellectual property in China. The ministries of commerce and science and technology have updated exports banned or restricted amid rising tensions between the US and China over technology and intellectual property. Among the new restrictions are “personalised information recommendation service technology based on data analysis” and “artificial intelligence interactive interfaces”, one type of which uses voice recognition. These technologies are widely used by TikTok and other products from Chinese owner ByteDance. This is the first time in 12 years that China has updated the export control list. Meanwhile, the US continues to enjoy an overwhelming advantage over China, which enables it to restrict all sorts of technologies. But China is beginning to catch up and in some sectors has even become more than competitive, such as in artificial intelligence and drones. As a result there are areas where US companies can benefit from Chinese technology. In the past countries have cooperated in joint development of technologies. This has become fraught with conflict of American self-interest, between Silicon Valley and political and trade interests, amid worries about decoupling and “Balkanisation” of technological development. If the US continues down that path, China can be expected to restrict the export of technology. It is regrettable when political factors prompt restriction of export of technologies that can be for the good of humankind. Collaboration and cooperation can not only spread the benefits directly and indirectly among people who need them most, but also help avoid an escalation of tensions.