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ByteDance to invest $2 billion in Malaysia…

TikTok parent company ByteDance has set aside MYR10 billion ($2.13 billion) to turn Malaysia into an AI hub and boost technology developments in the country, on top of an additional investment of MYR1.5 billion aimed at expanding its local data centers.

The news was announced by Malaysian Trade Minister Tengku Zafrul, who revealed that the investment deal was the result of a meeting with TikTok’s Vice President Helena Lersch during the latter’s visit to the country. Zafrul noted that the meeting examined “the development of TikTok in Malaysia,” adding that the social media app has built a data center in the Malaysian state of Johor.

Zafrul explained that ByteDance has proposed a major investment worth approximately MYR10 billion to support AI developments and position Malaysia as the “AI hub” of Southeast Asia.

The official also added that “Considering future needs, ByteDance plans to expand its data center facilities with an additional investment of MYR 1.5 billion.”

Zafrul expects the new investments will “undoubtedly” help Malaysia achieve its goal of growing its digital economy to 22.6 percent of the country’s GDP by 2025.

Reuters noted that Google last month said it plans an investment of $2 billion to develop its first data center and Google Cloud region in Malaysia, while Microsoft said it will invest $2.2 billion to expand cloud and AI services to expand.

Elsewhere, the company’s video-sharing platform TikTok is facing increasing pressure over a possible US ban, which could happen if ByteDance refuses to sell its stake to a US entity.

Recently, Reuters reported that TikTok is designing an algorithm specifically tailored to US audiences, noting that its version of the technology could operate independently of China-based ByteDance.

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