Trump wants the Treasury to get a substantial cut of any TikTok acquisition. China's state media says that would be 'open robbery.'

Trump wants the Treasury to get a substantial cut of any TikTok acquisition. China's state media says that would be 'open robbery.'
President Donald Trump.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
  • President Donald Trump said on Monday that TikTok had until September 15 to sell its US business or it would be "out of business in the United States."
  • Trump also said a "substantial portion" of a sale of the app should go to the US Treasury.
  • He wasn't clear about whether that cut should come from the purchasing company or ByteDance, TikTok's parent company.
  • Chinese state media reacted furiously to the remarks, with an editor saying that any such cut would constitute "an open robbery" and one newspaper describing the prospect as a "smash and grab."

China's state media reacted furiously to President Donald Trump's comments that the US Treasury should get a cut of any sale of TikTok to an American company.

Trump said on Monday that TikTok had until September 15 to sell off its US business and that he expected the government to receive a slice of any deal.

In a tweet, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times newspaper, said that would constitute "an open robbery."

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"The world is watching and God is watching that how President Trump is turning the once great America into a rogue country," he wrote.

TikTok, the short-form app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has had a turbulent five days. Last week, Trump threatened to ban the app altogether, then appeared to soften his stance to allow a sale of TikTok's US business to a US bidder.


Microsoft confirmed on Sunday that it was in talks about acquiring that business and that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken directly with Trump.

Trump said on Monday of the call with Nadella: "I suggested that he can go ahead, he can try. We set a date, I set a date of around September 15, at which point it's going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, whether it's Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that'll be interesting."

Trump then said he told Nadella that if a deal were to go through, he would want the US government to get a cut.

"I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it's China, essentially, but more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump said.

The China Daily, owned by the Communist Party of China's publicity department, wrote in an editorial that "China will by no means accept the 'theft' of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab."


Trump's explanation for why the US should get a large chunk of the deal was vague, and he compared the arrangement to a tenant paying a landlord.

"Right now they don't have any rights unless we give it to them," he said. "So if we're going to give them the rights, then it has to come into this country. It's a little bit like the landlord-tenant — without a lease, the tenant has nothing. So they pay what's called 'key money,' or they pay something. But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money, because without the United States they don't have anything."

In a press briefing later on Monday, CNN reported, the president was asked whether the money should come from the purchaser (such as Microsoft) or from ByteDance. Trump's answer was unclear.

"Whether it's Microsoft or somebody else, or if it's the Chinese — what the price is, the United States could, should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible," he said.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment to Business Insider on Trump's remarks.