President Donald Trump says he has given his “blessing” to a proposed deal between Oracle and Walmart for the US operations of TikTok, the Chinese-owned app he has targeted for national security and data privacy concerns.
President Trump said the proposed deal will result in a new company which is likely to be based in Texas and under the control of US-based Oracle and Walmart.
“I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.”
President Trump has been demanding that TikTok, a video app popular with younger people, be sold to a US company or else its US operations shut down.
He has also been targeting WeChat, another Chinese-owned app. The dispute over the two apps is the latest flashpoint in the rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Just a day earlier, the US Commerce Department said it would bar TikTok from US app stores as of late Sunday. Further restrictions that would prevent TikTok from accessing essential internet services in the country would go into effect on November 12.
The deal President Trump signed off on would allow TikTok’s US operations to keep functioning.
Commerce is imposing similar restrictions on WeChat, although all of those restrictions go into effect on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.
Earlier on Saturday, WeChat users asked a US judge to block the moves targeting the app, saying they would restrict free speech.
WeChat is an all-in-one app with instant-messaging, social media and other communication tools.
The US government argued that it is not restricting free speech because WeChat users still “are free to speak on alternative platforms that do not pose a national security threat”.
The aggressive tactics are part of President Trump’s latest attempt to counter the influence of China, a rising economic superpower.
Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment.
China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of US federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what US tech companies can do in China.
China’s ministry of commerce condemned the US moves and urged it to stop what it called bullying behaviour. It also said China may take “necessary measures” to protect Chinese companies.