US President Donald Trump has given popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok six weeks ultimatum to sell its US operations to an American company.
He added that the US arm of the company would be “out of business” if not sold, and that the government wants a financial benefit from the deal.
It’s got to be an American company. It’s got to be owned here. We don’t want to have any problem with security.
The US President said Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, which has almost one billion worldwide users who make engaging and funny 60-second videos with the social media app.
However, US officials believe the app constitutes a national security risk because it could share millions of Americans’ personal data with Chinese intelligence.
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Trump has now given the company’s Chinese parent ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal.
I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. Whatever the price is, the United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we’re making it possible.
Trump compared the demand for a piece of the pie to a landlord demanding under-the-table “key money” from a new tenant, a practice widely illegal.
According to him, TikTok is a big success, but a big portion of it is in the country, therefore it is fair to ask for a share.
Trump said the sale of TikTok’s US business would have to result in a significant payout to the US Treasury for initiating it.
He told reporters;
A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. They don’t have any rights unless we give it to them.
The pressure for a sale of TikTok’s US and international business, based in Los Angeles, has left the company and ByteDance to face tough decisions.
Trump has made TikTok the latest front in the ongoing political and trade battles between Washington and Beijing.
The app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds because it collects large amounts of personal data on all its users and is legally bound to share that with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.
China’s foreign ministry pushed back on Monday, calling Washington hypocritical for demanding TikTok be sold.
Chinese spokesman Wang Wenbin said;
The US is using an abused concept of national security and, without providing any evidence, is making presumptions of guilt and issuing threats to relevant companies.
This goes against the principle of market economy and exposes the hypocrisy and typical double standards of the US in upholding so-called fairness and freedom.