ByteDance CEO says ‘primary goal’ of President Trump is to ban TikTok

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According to multiple outlets, the CEO of TikTok parent company ByteDance has said that the “primary goal” of President Trump and Washington remains a ban on TikTok in the U.S. rather than its sale.

According to Reuters:

ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming told employees in an internal letter on Tuesday that the United States goal was not to force a sale of TikTok U.S. operations but rather to ban the app, and that some people had misconceptions about the situation.

The letter, according to the report, was issued to ByteDance’s Chinese employees following criticism of the firm after it was revealed that a deal may be in the works to sell TikTok to Microsoft.

As Sputnik reports, the letter reportedly stated that anti-China sentiment “has risen in many countries in the last two years”:

the tech firm’s founder and head Zhang Yiming said current circumstances mean the company should anticipate more difficulties in the foreseeable future.

The latest reports suggest that President Trump has approved a 45-day window for ByteDance and Microsoft to come to an agreement over a sale. Inexplicably, President Trump has also demanded that the government gets a “substantial portion” of the sale stating:

“The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we’re making it possible. It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that’s the way I think, and I think it’s very fair.”

As per the BBC, DLA Piper lawyer Nicholas Klein noted that the government “doesn’t have the authority to take a cut of a private deal” through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. MIT Technology Review reported Charlotte Jee also said that the President’s comments were “pretty astonishing” and akin to “Mafia-like behavior,” by threatening a ban to drive the price of TikTok down and then taking a cut of the deal afterward.

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In a statement on Sunday, ByteDance said it was “faced with all kinds of complicated and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, the collision and conflict of different cultures, and the plagiarism and smear of competitor Facebook.” In a letter sent to employees yesterday, CEO Zhang Yiming said:

Although we have repeatedly emphasized that we are a private company and we are willing to adopt more technical solutions to eliminate concerns, CFIUS still believes that Bytedance must sell TikTok’s US business. We do not agree with this decision because we have always insisted on ensuring user data security, platform neutrality and transparency. Considering the current environment, we must also face the decision of CFIUS and the executive order of the US President, while not giving up exploring any possibilities. We tried to conduct preliminary discussions with a technology company on the cooperation plan and formulate a plan to ensure that TikTok can continue to serve American users.

The situation appears to remain extremely fluid at this time.

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