US President Donald Trump has said he won’t approve the deal between Tiktok owner Bytedance and US partners Oracle and Walmart if the Chinese tech firm maintains any control.
“If we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal… We will be watching it very closely,” Trump told Fox News in an interview.
Bytedance has said it will have a majority 80 per cent stake in the newly created Tiktok Global, which will encompass its US operations. However half of that stake will be funded by US venture capital firms.
Meanwhile Oracle and Walmart’s collective stakes will make up the remaining 20 per cent. Tiktok Global will then be listed on public markets within the next 12 months.
Trump had previously given his blessing to the arrangement over the weekend.
“It’ll be a brand new company. It will have nothing to do with any outside land, any outside country, it will have nothing to do with China,” he said on Saturday.
He also said the US government would be receiving $5bn from the deal, which would be used to “educate people as to the real history of our country”.
Tiktok said on its Chinese language website that this was the first time it had heard of an education fund.
It added that the $5bn figure was “a forecast of the corporate income tax and other operating taxes that Tiktok will need to pay for its business development in the next few years”, which has not been finalised.
Chinese state media today said Bytedance’s deal with Oracle and Walmart was “reasonable”, given the pressure it was under by Washington.
Newspaper Global Times said the deal avoids the “worst-case scenario”, but countered that it was “unfair” that Bytedance had to give up some of the short-form video app.
An earlier ban on new US downloads of Tiktok and Chinese messaging app Wechat has been pushed back to next week, in the wake of the deal and a block on the order imposed by a judge in San Francisco.