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Trump hinges TikTok's fate on Microsoft or other business deal

President Donald Trump said Monday that TikTok's ability to operate in the United States will hinge on a deal with Microsoft or another U.S. company after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asked the president about acquiring the platform. File Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
President Donald Trump said Monday that TikTok's ability to operate in the United States will hinge on a deal with Microsoft or another U.S. company after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asked the president about acquiring the platform. File Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said Monday that TikTok's ability to operate in the United States hinges on a deal with Microsoft or another big U.S. company going through soon.

Trump said he approves a potential sale of the video-sharing social networking app owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance to Microsoft.

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Microsoft had confirmed Sunday that it had spoken to Trump about talks to buy TikTok from ByteDance.

"We set a date -- I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it's going to be out of business in the United States," Trump told reporters regarding TikTok. "But if somebody, and whether it's Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that will be interesting."

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"I don't mind whether it's Microsoft or somebody else -- a big company, a secure company, a very American company -- buys it," Trump said Monday. "It's probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30 percent of it."

Trump added that the government should be paid for clearing the purchase.

"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. "Right now they don't have any rights unless we give it to them."

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Microsoft said Sunday that it aims to complete negotiations by the Sept. 15 deadline.

TikTok estimates 100 million people use the app in the United States.

Trump had threatened late Friday to ban TikTok from U.S. operation and potentially sign an executive order to do so, amid tensions with the Chinese government and U.S. security officials raising concern that the app could be used to collected personal data on U.S. citizens.

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TikTok has denied that it shares any data with the Chinese government.

Vanessa Pappas, U.S. general manager of TikTok responded Saturday with a video message that thanked the millions of people who use the app daily and said, "we're not planning on going anywhere."

ByteDance said in a statement Sunday that it has been committed to being a "globalized company" despite political challenges.

"We face the real possibility of a forced sale of TikTok's U.S. business by CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] or an executive order banning the TikTok app in the U.S.," ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming wrote in a letter to employees Monday.

TechCrunch reported that the letter prompted angry responses among Chinese internet users, including an accusation that Yiming was a "traitor."

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