Trump issues order to block US transactions with TikTok parent company
President Trump on Thursday issued an executive order barring any transactions between U.S. companies and the Chinese parent company of TikTok beginning in 45 days, the latest action in the administration’s campaign against the app.
The order essentially forces the parent company, ByteDance, to divest from TikTok, or face a ban from operating in the United States. The president had previously set a deadline of Sept. 15 for Microsoft or another American company to acquire the viral video app before he moved to ban it from operating in the U.S.
The executive order states that “the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.”
Trump, citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, declared that any transaction with ByteDance would be prohibited beginning in 45 days, which would be Sept. 20. Any company violating the order could face sanctions.
The president issued another executive order on Thursday night applying the same ban on transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat. The company, Tencent Holdings, also has a stake in several popular video game developers, including Activision Blizzard and the maker of Fortnite. It’s not clear if the executive order applies to those investments.
TikTok said in a statement it was “shocked” by the executive order.
“For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed,” the company said in a statement. “What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
The company disputed the order’s characterization that it has been used for misinformation campaigns and denied sharing data with the Chinese government. The order “risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law,” the company said, and TikTok urged users to express their opinions to lawmakers and the White House.
Trump earlier in the week said TikTok must end its U.S. operations on Sept. 15 if a deal with Microsoft to buy the company from ByteDance does not go through.
“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. “But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that will be interesting.”
Trump noted that he approved of Microsoft buying TikTok. Microsoft confirmed Sunday that it had spoken to Trump and was in talks to buy TikTok from ByteDance, which is under investigation by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
In an unprecedented move, Trump has insisted that a portion of any sale of TikTok to a U.S. company should be directed to the U.S. Treasury, citing his role in making a deal possible.
The Trump administration has for weeks raised concerns about TikTok and floated the idea of banning the popular social media platform, which allows users to create short videos that often go viral, from operating in the United States. Officials have cited concerns over its ties to the Chinese Communist Party and alleged the app can be used to access users’ data.
TikTok has pushed back against concerns raised by the Trump administration and members of Congress. The company recently hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to serve as CEO, moved the storage of American data from the app to the U.S. and plans to hire 10,000 American workers in the coming months.
Updated Aug. 7 at 11:22 a.m.