TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, said it will increase its number of employees in Ireland to 1,100 by early 2021 from just 20 in January.
TikTok said its senior executive team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is now based in Dublin, overseeing privacy and data protection for Europe. The 900 people currently employed in Ireland represent almost half of TikTok’s 2,000 European staff.
The move comes as President Donald Trump and other American lawmakers have said TikTok is a national security risk and called for the divestment of the service in the United States, an order ByteDance filed an appeal over late on Tuesday.
The video app, owned by China’s ByteDance, also announced in August that it will set up its first European data centre in Ireland, where tech giants such as Google , Facebook and Apple have their European headquarters, benefiting from a low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent.
“This is probably one of the fastest (expansions) we have undoubtedly seen and they have done this in the midst of a global pandemic. That’s quite an achievement,” IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Foreign companies directly accounted for around one in 10 jobs in Ireland at the end of 2019 before some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in Europe left 20% of all workers temporarily or permanently unemployed at the end of October.
Shanahan said in July that the pandemic would exert downward pressure on job creation, increase job losses and that managing to hold onto the same number of foreign direct investment (FDI) posts at the end of 2020 would be a very good result.
Meanwhile, ByteDance filed a petition late on Tuesday with a U.S. Appeals Court challenging a Trump administration order set to take effect on Thursday requiring it to divest TikTok.
President Donald Trump in an Aug. 14 order directed ByteDance to divest the app within 90 days, which falls on Thursday. The Trump administration contends TikTok poses national security concerns as the personal data of U.S. users could be obtained by China’s government. TikTok, which has over 100 million U.S. users, denies the allegations.
ByteDance said it is seeking a court review of the divestment order, claiming that the order and a finding by a U.S. agency that TikTok represented a security threat were unlawful and violated rights under the U.S. Constitution.
ByteDance, which has been in talks for a deal with Walmart and Oracle to shift TikTok’s U.S. assets into a new entity, also said it is requesting a 30-day extension on the Aug. 14 divestment order, so that it can finalize terms of the deal.