It’s starting to look like TikTok might not be saved in the US, just yet, after all. After President Trump gave a deal involving Oracle and Walmart (two American companies) taking control of the popular social media app his blessing last weekend, you could almost hear the sigh of relief let out by the app’s 100,000 American users. Forget about Instagram Reels, they were thinking, TikTok is here to stay.
However, Monday alone saw a number of bumps in the road for the deal and the weight is slowly creeping back up onto our shoulders. I think we might have spoken too soon.
The companies involved in the deal, Oracle, Walmart, and China-based ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) publicly clashed over the fine print yesterday when Oracle said as soon as TikTok Global (the new, separate US arm of TikTok) was established, ByteDance would no longer retain its ownership. President Trump said he would approve any deal that left any Chinese companies out of the equation. ByteDance, however, said it would retain an 80% majority of the company until it goes public next year. Hm.
When asked about this statement by Fox News, Trump maintained his position: “Everything is going to be moved into a cloud done by Oracle, it’s all through the cloud. And it’s going to be totally controlled by Oracle … and if we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal.” Again: Hm.
On top of this, Chinese, government-backed tabloid, the Global Times published a story on Monday evening arguing that the Chinese Communist Party was unlikely to approve of such an unfair deal, regardless.
“From the information provided by the U.S., the deal was unfair. It caters to the unreasonable demands of Washington. It’s hard for us to believe that Beijing will approve such an agreement,” the editorial read. Last night, the tabloid’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin tweeted that the deal would “endanger China’s national security, interests, and dignity.”
Based on what I know, Beijing won't approve current agreement between ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, and Oracle, Walmart, because the agreement would endanger China's national security, interests and dignity.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) September 21, 2020
This morning, Xijin put out another tweet that referenced Trump’s Fox News quotes which accused America of extortion and echoing the claims made in the article.
Stop extorting. You think TikTok is a company from a small country? There's no way the Chinese government will accept your demand. You can ruin TikTok's US business, if US users do not object, but you can't rob it and turn it into a US baby. pic.twitter.com/Jskn9PjIFU
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) September 22, 2020
The deal struck on Sunday only gave TikTok enough breathing room to iron out any issues and solidify the deal by the end of this week. Given Trump’s attempt to ban any new downloads of the app by means of an executive order last Friday, before the deal was approved, something’s telling me it isn’t enough time. Are we finally going to see the end of TikTok in the US?