Washington, Aug 3 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Monday gave popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok until Sept. 15 to allow itself to be purchased by a US firm or to face being banned from operating in this country due to the risk it poses to the privacy of Americans who use it.
The president said that TikTok will have to cease its operations in the US in mid-September if it does not agree to being bought by Microsoft, with which the app owned by China’s ByteDance is currently in acquisition talks, or by some other US firm.
“I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.”
“It’s a great asset, but it’s not a great asset in the United States unless they have the approval of the United States,” said Trump, adding “So it’ll close down on Sept. 15, unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal.”
He also said that the US Treasury must receive a considerable amount of money from the sale, although he did not specify how that might come about.
TikTok, which has more than 80 million users in the US, is one of the social networks that has grown the most in recent years, transforming itself into the main online entertainment forum for many teens and a vital marketing channel for important celebrities and other so-called online “influencers.”
The Trump administration, along with key Democratic lawmakers, has insisted that the widespread use of TikTok poses a risk to the privacy of Americans’ personal data and to national security, since via ByteDance the app is subject to the instructions and intervention of the Chinese government, specifically the Chinese Communist Party.
On Sunday, Microsoft announced that it is continuing negotiations with TikTok to explore its possible purchase of the app’s US operations, and it promised to complete the talks by September.
The decision was made public by the Redmond, Washington-based firm after its CEO, Satya Nadella, spoke with Trump, who last Friday announced his intention to sign an executive order prohibiting the operations and use of the hugely popular Chinese social network in this country.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the weekend said that Trump has the ability to force the sale of the firm’s US operations to a US buyer or to ban it altogether, adding that this stance has received the support of Democratic leaders in Congress.
Mnuchin said that the president could invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a 1977 federal law authorizing the president to regulate commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to any unusual and extraordinary threat to the US which has a foreign source.
TikTok’s general manager in the US, Vanessa Pappas, defended the app on Saturday, telling users that the company was taking measures and intending to provide them with “the safest app,” despite US concerns over data security.
“We’re not planning on going anywhere,” Pappas said in a message to users issued via the app.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry opposes the forced sale of TikTok, contending that such a sale would violate the principles of the World Trade Organization.
The Chinese government sees Trump’s stance on the sale of TikTok as one more chapter in the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington, as the latter tries to contain the ever-greater technological power of the Asian giant, as recently evidenced by its imposition of restrictions on China’s Huawei telecommunications firm.
The efforts to pressure TikTok are also being viewed with concern by other Chinese tech giants with global ambitions, including Alibaba and Tencent.