Microsoft Corp.’s attempt to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations represents the latest step in a careful dance the software-maker has performed to meet the demands of the Chinese and U.S. governments while doing business in both places, a balancing act that has grown increasingly fraught amid the political conflict between the countries.

China hawks in the Trump administration oppose any purchase of the social-media service by Microsoft, which wants the popular app to expand its consumer internet business in the U.S. But the company also wants to maintain its robust business in China, the world’s most-populous country.

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