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China calls Trump’s proposed Microsoft-TikTok cut state-sanctioned robbery

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  • President Trump said on Monday TikTok has a deadline of September 15 to sell its US business or it will be “out of business in the United States.”
  • Trump also said a “substantial portion” of the any sale of the app should go to the US treasury.
  • He wasn’t clear whether that cut should come from the purchasing company or ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company.
  • Chinese state media has reacted furiously to the remarks, with one editor saying any such cut would constitute “open robbery” and one newspaper describing the prospect as a “smash and grab.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China’s state media has reacted furiously to Trump’s comments that the US Treasury should get a cut of any sale of TikTok to an American company.

President Trump on Monday announced not only that TikTok has a deadline to sell off its US business, but he also expects the government to receive a slice of any deal.

In a tweet Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said it constituted “open robbery.”

“This is an open robbery. The world is watching and God is watching that how President Trump is turning the once great America into a rogue country,” he wrote.

TikTok, the short-form app owned by Chinese parent firm ByteDance, has had a turbulent five days, during which Trump threatened to ban the app altogether, then appeared to soften his stance to allow a potential sell-off of TikTok’s US business to a US bidder.

Microsoft confirmed on Sunday that it was in talks to acquire parts of TikTok’s business, and that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken directly to Trump.

Trump said of the call with Nadella  on Monday: “I suggested that he can go ahead, he can try. We set a date — I set a date — of around September 15, at which point it [TikTok] is going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.”

Trump then said he had stipulated to Nadella that if a deal goes through he wants the US government to get a cut.

“I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it — because I guess it’s China, essentially […] I said 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,” said Trump.

The China Daily, owned by the Communist Party of China’s publicity department, wrote in response: “China will by no means accept the ‘theft’ of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab.”

Trump’s explanation for why the US should get a large chunk of the deal was vague, and he compared the arrangement to a tenant paying a landlord.

“Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them, so if we’re going to give them the rights it has to come into this country, it’s a little bit like the landlord-tenant — without a lease the tenant has nothing. So they pay what’s called ‘key money’ or they pay something. But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money because without the United States they don’t have anything.”

 

In a later press briefing on Monday, as reported by CNN, the president was asked whether the money should come from the purchaser (e.g. Microsoft) or from TikTok parent ByteDance.

The president didn’t seem clear on which side of the acquisition the money would come from.

“Whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, or if it’s the Chinese — what the price is, the United States could — should get a very large percentage of that price. Because we’re making it possible,” he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on Trump’s remarks when contacted by Business Insider.

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