Short video app TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, said on Thursday it would invest “billions of dollars” in Southeast Asia over the next few years, Reuters reported.

“We’re going to invest billions of dollars in Indonesia and Southeast Asia over the next few years,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was quoted as saying at a forum it organised in Jakarta to highlight the social and economic impact of the app in the region.

He said content on its platform was becoming more diversified as it adds more users and expands beyond advertising into e-commerce, allowing consumers to purchase goods through links on the app during live-streaming.

Chew said TikTok has 8,000 employees in Southeast Asia, and 2 million small vendors selling their wares on its platform in Indonesia, the region’s biggest economy.

Southeast Asia is one of TikTok’s biggest markets in terms of user numbers. The region has a collective population of 630 million of which half of them under 30, according to Reuters.

But the platform has yet to translate the large user base into a major e-commerce revenue source in the region as it faces fierce competition from bigger rivals inclduing Sea’s Shopee, Alibaba’s Lazada and GoTo’s Tokopedia.

TikTok’s investment plan, however, comes as the Chinese-owned company faces scrutiny from some governments and regulators because of concerns that Beijing could use the app to harvest user data or advance its interests.

According to Reuters, Countries including Britain and New Zealand have banned the app on government phones, moves TikTok said it believed were based on “fundamental misconceptions” and driven by wider geopolitics.

TikTok has repeatedly denied that it has ever shared data with the Chinese government and has said the company would not do so if asked.

The app has not faced major bans on government devices in Southeast Asia, but it has been under scrutiny over its content.

Indonesia presented one of its first major global policy challenges in 2018 after authorities briefly banned TikTok for posts they said contained “pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy”.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, regulators said it would probe TikTok’s operations in the country because “toxic” content on the platform poses a threat to its “youth, culture and tradition”.

Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean, came under the limelight in March after he weathered questioning during a Congressional hearing as US lawmakers grilled him on the app’s alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

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