Give US gov't 'substantial portion' of TikTok's sale price

Joanna Estrada
August 5, 2020

ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming has told employees there were misunderstandings on Chinese social media about TikTok's situation in the United States and that the company could face more difficulties as anti-Chinese sentiment rose overseas.

Microsoft Corp said on Monday it was in talks with ByteDance to buy parts of TikTok after U.S. President Donald Trump reversed course on a plan to ban the app on national security grounds and gave the firms 45 days to strike a deal.

The US president initially opposed the deal and has accused TikTok of supplying information to the Chinese government.

According to the memo that was reported in the Chinese media, Zhang complained to his employees that "the current geopolitical and public opinion environment is becoming more and more complex". It has not disclosed how much it is willing to pay, though sources previously told Reuters that ByteDance executives value all of TikTok at more than $50 billion.

"I think our attitude on China has changed greatly since the China virus hit us", he said Tuesday.

By going after TikTok, Washington is expanding a fight against Beijing using Chinese-style restrictions on tech companies in a move that could potentially have enormous ramifications for the world's biggest economies. "With lots of grievances towards the USA government, they tend to lash out at us with harsh criticism".

"The company (TikTok) does business in the accordance with market principles and global rules, and abides by USA laws and regulations, but the US imposes restrictions out of groundless excuses, which is completely political manipulation", said MOFA spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

United States officials have said TikTok, under its Chinese parent, poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.

Others urged ByteDance to learn from USA giant Google, which opted to pull its search engine out of the Chinese market in 2010 after China asked it to censor its search results, rather than selling off its Chinese operations.

"But the United States is cracking down on them on trumped-up charges", said Wang, who warned the USA not to "open Pandora's box".

Microsoft said in a blog post that it was aiming to complete a deal for TikTok's operations in the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, no later than Sept 15.

In the meantime, Microsoft said in a blog post Sunday that its CEO, Satya Nadella, and Trump had a conversation on the potential acquisition and "Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States".

Chinese state media has threatened retaliation after the Trump administration compelled short-video app TikTok to find an American buyer, citing national security concerns about the popular platform's Chinese ownership.

There have also been concerns that TikTok could hand over user data to China at its request, though the company has said it will not. "We ought to look at the immediate challenges and pressures from the long-term development and pursue high standards in protecting the interests of users and fulfilling corporate social responsibility", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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