Teten Masduki couldn’t stop talking about TikTok. In a July meeting with his team, the Indonesian minister broke from the official agenda every five to 10 minutes to complain about how the Chinese-owned social media platform was squeezing local players.
It wasn’t a once-off, according to people familiar with the internal discussions. It’s a familiar scene in meetings run by Teten, appointed Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises in 2019. A former activist who took on graft and nepotism, Teten has in recent months become the public voice of a growing backlash against ByteDance’s prized brand in Southeast Asia’s biggest retail arena.
That groundswell culminated in sweeping regulations that will force TikTok to split payments from shopping in Indonesia — an unprecedented separation that could stall TikTok’s e-commerce thrust just as it was gaining traction against Sea and GoTo. It now needs to chart a new path for its fastest-growing feature, TikTok Shop, in a country of 278 million that was supposed to be a template for a global expansion from the U.S. to Europe. And it’s now got yet another powerful government to contend with — this time, far closer to its home turf.