President Donald Trump has demanded that the US should get a substantial chunk of the TikTok sale proceeds, as he set September 15 as the deadline for the popular Chinese app to get out of the country, unless it is bought by an American company.
Technology giant Microsoft is in talks with TikTok's parent company ByteDance to buy its US operation. ByteDance is under pressure to sell its US business after Trump threatened a crackdown on Chinese tech companies. However, the president is in favour of a complete 100 per cent purchase and not the 30 per cent, as reportedly being negotiated now.
Trump was speaking to reporters at a White House news conference on Monday, hours after it announced the deadline for TikTok to stop operations in the US.
"The United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we're making it possible. Without us, you know, I use the expression, it's like the landlord and the tenant. And without the lease, the tenant doesn't have the value," Trump said.
"Well, we're sort of in a certain way, the lease. We make it possible, this great success. TikTok is a tremendous success. But a big portion of it is in this country,’’ he reasoned.
Trump also spoke to Microsoft's Indian-American CEO Satya Nadella on the matter. Redmond-headquartered Microsoft, in a statement on Sunday, said that following a conversation between Nadella and Trump, it is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the US.
India's recent decision to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps has stirred a national debate in the US and there has been a clamour in America to follow suit. TikTok, Trump has asserted, has to be an American company.
"We want no security problems with China. It's got to be an American company,’’ he said.
Earlier in the day, White House trade adviser said that TikTok poses a security threat to the country. "The Chinese Communist Party may know where your children are. That's essentially the problem. You sign up for a Chinese app like TikTok, they get your user name and password, maybe if you use that across other applications, they've got that," he told CNN in an interview.
Microsoft, he said, is one of four or five American technology companies -- Yahoo, Google, Sysco being the others -- which helped China originally build their great firewall of China, which is used to survey, track, monitor, sensor and imprison the Chinese people.
"But, more importantly, the one of the few surviving search engines from America in China is Bing, and Microsoft owns that. So you know that there's some fishy stuff going on there," he said. "If you're in China and doing a Skype call, which is another Microsoft product, the CCP is listening in,’’ he added.