On August 14th, US President Donald Trump issued another executive order in support of “free trade” and in assistance of “the invisible hand of the market.”
He ordered Chinese company ByteDance to divest from any US business within 90 days and to erase all data linked to TikTok, saying that both the company and its app are a threat to US national security.
An acquisition by ByteDance of Musical.ly is entirely prohibited, and it has nothing to do with anti-monopoly law, or anything of the sort, it’s just forbidden because it’s a Chinese company attempting to purchase a smaller, US one.
“The transaction resulting in the acquisition by ByteDance of Musical.ly, to the extent that Musical.ly or any of its assets is used in furtherance or support of, or relating to, Musical.ly’s activities in interstate commerce in the United States, is hereby prohibited, and ownership by ByteDance of any interest in Musical.ly in the United States, whether effected directly or indirectly through ByteDance, or through ByteDance’s subsidiaries, affiliates, or Chinese shareholders, is also prohibited.”
The Chinese company responded to the order, saying that TikTok is used by 100 million Americans because “it is their home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection,” adding that it would continue to “bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”
On August 8th, Trump signed another executive order banning all US citizens from doing business with ByteDance after a grace period of 45 days. It also banned WeChat, saying it is also a threat to US national security.
Additionally, ByteDance was in negotiations with Microsoft which showed interest in purchasing the US side of the TikTok business.
Trump said he would support an effort by Microsoft Corp to buy TikTok’s American operations if the US government got a “substantial portion” of the proceeds, but has also said there are other interested potential buyers.
Asked if he was concerns that the sweeping bans on transactions with WeChat could prevent Apple Inc from selling iPhones in China, Trump did not express worry.
“I do what’s good in terms of the security of our country,” he told reporters.
A group of major US companies including Apple this week raised concerns about the potential negative implications on US firms from the TikTok and WeChat orders.
Regardless, national security needs to be protected, and also if any business deal is made the US government needs to have a cut out of it, in a reminiscence of the good old days when business owners paid mafia families on their streets to protect their business from being targeted … by the same mafia families.
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