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Trump digs in on cut from TikTok deal

China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-03 09:47
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TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken on Nov 27, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

SAN FRANCISCO-United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday repeated his demand for a piece of the action from any sale of TikTok's US operations for forcing such a deal.

Trump's line on the US government's receiving a cut from any deal has been slammed by critics from the outset.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between Washington and Beijing, and Trump gave a deadline for an end to business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance-effectively compelling a sale of the app to a US company.

"Well, I told them that they have until September 15th to make a deal; after that, we close it up in this country," Trump told journalists.

"And I said that the United States has to be compensated-well compensated-because we are the ones that are making it possible, and so we should be compensated."

Critics have slammed Trump's call for the US government to get a cut on the deal, contending that it appears unconstitutional and akin to extortion.

ByteDance, the parent firm of video-sharing app TikTok, vowed on Sunday to "strictly abide" by new export rules in China, which could potentially complicate a sale of the business as demanded by Trump.

China unveiled a newly revised catalog of technologies prohibited and restricted from export on Friday, incorporating new restrictions on artificial intelligence-related technologies, including algorithm-backed services such as those provided by ByteDance.

That means technologies new to the list, including text analysis, content recommendation, speech modeling, voice-recognition and personalized recommendation pushes, are subject to regulatory approval before their potential export or sale.

Negative list

Cui Fan, a professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said that it is a common global practice to implement negative lists for technology exports. As the last catalog was revised in 2008, it was necessary to make adjustments due to rapid technological development, Cui said.

He suggested companies like ByteDance should "carefully study the revised catalog, seriously and carefully consider whether it is necessary to suspend substantive negotiations on relevant transactions".

Walmart has confirmed that the retail giant has joined forces with Microsoft in negotiations to buy Tik-Tok's US operations. Software company Oracle is also reported to be interested in TikTok.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer last week quit the company, days after TikTok filed a lawsuit challenging the crackdown by the US government.

Trump issued two executive orders on Aug 6, banning US transactions with TikTok and Chinese social media app WeChat from Sept 20 over national security concerns. He then issued an order on Aug 14, using the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US to direct ByteDance to divest its US assets by Nov 12.

TikTok argued in the suit that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the app is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Agencies - Xinhua

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