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TikTok's comprehensive ban and not its sale is US govt's intention, says ByteDance CEO

Yasmin Ahmed     August 5, 2020

ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming in a letter to his employees said that America is intended to smother a Chinese owned app that has become a sensation with Americans. A sale to Microsoft "is not their goal, or even what they want. Their real objective is to achieve a comprehensive ban," Bloomberg quoted Yiming's letter.

In a memo to his employees, Ziming wrote, "The current geopolitical and public opinion environment is becoming more and more complex. We are facing great external pressure in some markets. Our team in response has been working around the clock and overtime in the past few weeks to strive for the best outcome."

TikTok faced scrutiny over security concerns in the US and now has an ultimatum till September 15 to sell US TikTok operations. The ByteDance owned company is currently in talks with Microsoft over the same deal but has made no final decision.

Yiming said that a forced sale of TikTok was unreasonable but it had no choice but to comply with the US law.

"Even though we've repeatedly stressed that we're a privately-run business, and despite our willingness to adopt even more technical solutions to allay their concerns, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) still believes ByteDance has to sell the TikTok U.S. operation. We do not agree with this decision," Zhang wrote. "We've always firmly protected the security of users' data, the platform's independence, and transparency."

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has said that the US Treasury should get a cut of any sale of TikTok to an American Company. "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 but more than anything else, 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," Trump said.

This has infuriated the Chinese media who reacted strongly to Trump's suggestions calling it an open robbery.

Microsoft in a blog post had said that it will continue talks with ByteDance on Tiktok's acquisition. "Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President's concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.

Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020," Microsoft said.

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