KEY POINTS

  • Congressional Republicans and White House staffers reportedly pushed Trump to allow talks between Microsoft and ByteDance to begin.
  • Trump allies hope deal with help win some young voters ahead of the November 2020 elections
  • Microsoft has 45 days to complete the deal, which company said it would try to have  completed by Sept. 15

Amid ongoing criticism and bans in various parts of the world over Chinese ownership, Microsoft said it was in talks to buy the social media video app TikTok in the U.S. from its parent company ByteDance. President Trump okayed the negotiations  following reported pressure from within the Republican Party after saying Friday he planned to ban the app in the U.S.

Microsoft has to move fast on the potential purchase after Trump agreed to give the company a 45-day window to buy the social media company before the U.S. government pursues a potential ban. Trump reportedly agreed to the window in response to pressure from some White House staffers and Congressional Republicans who warned banning TikTok could further alienate young voters ahead of the November elections.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., spoke about Trump’s decision on Twitter, calling it a “win-win in the making.”

The deadline for a deal is Sept. 15 and the potential agreement’s progress will be overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. If the sale goes through, it would resolve the tensions surrounding TikTok after President Trump saying he would work to ban the popular app in the U.S.

“Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” Microsoft said in a press release Sunday.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the president’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

The “concerns” Microsoft speaks of are potential monitoring and information sharing between ByteDance and the Chinese government. Those have been the common source of criticism for multiple tech companies with roots in China, arguably the most contentious surrounding smart device maker Huawei.

Beyond serving U.S. interests, Microsoft’s potential purchase would also give the tech giant ownership of TikTok in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

In one of many fronts in the increasingly poisonous US-Chinese relationship, President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the wildly popular app TikTok, citing national security concerns In one of many fronts in the increasingly poisonous US-Chinese relationship, President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the wildly popular app TikTok, citing national security concerns Photo: AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE