Donald Trump has said that if a potential forced sale of TikTok's US operations goes through, the US government should receive a large cut.
Following The US government's threat to ban the social media app TikTok from the US or force it to sell its US subsidiary over security fears, Microsoft announced it is currently in talks with the Chinese company, but only has until September 15 to reach an agreement. After that point, Trump has threatened to ban the app from the US via Executive Order. Both the ban and the payoff to the US Treasury may not be within the power of Trump's executive orders.
Kickbacks and clapbacks
"The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible," President Trump said.
"It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that's the way I think - and I think it's very fair."
Trump had originally promised to ban the app on 1 August, but a last-minute call by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delayed the move. At the time, the decision to restrict the app was nominally raised due to national security concerns about user data being in the hands of Chinese parent company ByteDance. The company claims it keeps US user data within the country, but has a data backup in Singapore. and keeps the TikTok app separate from a different app it runs in China.
"I think a deal is going to be made, it's a great asset, it's a great asset, but it's not a great asset in the United States, it doesn't have the approval of the United States," Trump said on Monday at the White House.
"So it will close down on September 15, unless Microsoft or someone else is able to buy it and work out a deal, an appropriate deal, so the Treasury of the United States gets a lot of money, a lot of money."
Such a move appears to be without precedent. Mergers and acquisitions do not usually involve a 'finder's fee' to the government, even when the sale happens due to threats of government intervention.
"Microsoft appreciates the US Government’s and President Trump’s personal involvement as it continues to develop strong security protections for the country," the company said in a statement confirming Microsoft's intention to acquire TikTok's services in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
An editorial in official state paper China Daily said that the country would not accept the “theft” of one of its technology companies, “and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash-and-grab."
It added that the US offered “an either-or choice of submission or mortal combat in the tech realm."
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, added that “the US generalizes the concept of national security and, without any evidence, presumptions of guilt and threats against relevant companies.
“This violates the principles of market economy and exposes the hypocrisy and typical double standards of the US in maintaining fairness and freedom. It also violates the World Trade Organisation’s principles of openness, transparency, and non-discrimination.”