Donald Trump has questioned the plans of Chinese technology company ByteDance to maintain a majority stake in U.S. operations of TikTok as part of a “trusted technology deal” with Oracle.
“Conceptually I can tell you I don’t like that,” Trump said at a news conference when asked about an informed proposal to give Oracle only a minority share. “I am not ready to sign anything. Tomorrow morning they will inform me and I will let you know ”.
Trump said he would be briefed Thursday on a proposal calling for Oracle to become a “trusted technology provider”; for TikTok’s U.S. operations, but did not favor the idea of the Chinese company maintaining the control.
“It has to be 100% when it comes to national security,” Trump said. “I have to see the deal.”
The president also expressed surprise that Washington could not demand payment from companies in exchange for approving any deal. “Surprisingly I feel like you’re not allowed to do that,” he said. “What kind of thing is that?”
Trump’s intervention followed six Republican senators who urged the administration to reject the TikTok deal as long as links were maintained with Chinese owner ByteDance and suggested the president could block the proposal.
Trump had previously threatened to ban the application unless its U.S. operations were sold to a U.S. company and the U.S. government received a portion of the product.
Marco Rubio, the first senator to ask the administration to investigate TikTok over censorship issues, cited “serious questions” about the role of Oracle, the technology it would provide to ByteDance, and the future of the algorithm. application in a letter to Trump.
“We remain opposed to any agreement that allows entities based or controlled in China to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any version of TikTok based in the United States,” he wrote.
“We are encouraged because this agreement still requires government approval, and if reports indicating this proposed agreement will maintain links with ByteDance or other China-controlled entities, we strongly urge the administration to reject this proposal for reasons of national security.” .
Senator Ted Cruz sent a separate letter to Trump arguing that the Oracle ByteDance deal “did not meet the intent of the president’s executive orders” and “raises serious national security concerns.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany earlier told reporters the decision would be made “soon.” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said security and the property issue were fundamentally concerned.
U.S. national security officials fear ByteDance could provide data on U.S. users to the Chinese government. But Trump may not want to alienate 100 million American TikTok users so close to the Nov. 3 election.
Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle co-founder and president Larry Ellison, one of the few technology executives who openly supports him.
Meanwhile, China has updated its export control rules to give a word on technology transfer, such as TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, to a foreign buyer. Chinese officials have said ByteDance should not be coerced by the United States into a deal.