Microsoft has confirmed it is still pursuing talks to buy the Chinese video app TikTok, with reports that Donald Trump has given the negotiations a 45-day deadline.
The news comes just after TikTok’s US general manager, Vanessa Pappas, stood up for the app, saying “we’re here for the long run”.
Donald Trump had threatened to ban TikTok from the US as early as last weekend, but ultimately took no action, instead talking with Microsoft about its plans.
In a statement on Sunday, the company announced that after a discussion between the president and its CEO, Satya Nadella, it is still committed to buying the app, “subject to a complete security review” and a mid-September deadline.
The American tech giant also promised to “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States,” amid concerns over national security – the likely sticking point for determining TikTok’s future in the US.
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The world must avoid a new Cold War, Chinese state councillor Wang Yi, the government’s top diplomat, said on Tuesday in apparent reference to escalating tensions between China and the United States.
Speaking on a visit to Italy, Mt Wang said it was important for China and the European Union to strengthen their own ties and cooperate further in the fight against the coronavirus.
US president Donald Trump has blamed China for the spread of the disease, having referred to Covid-19 as the “China plague” on multiple occasions.
His administration, at the same time, has moved to restrict the global development of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co, whilst forcing other Chinese brands such as TikTok to cease operating in the US unless their operations in that market are sold.
“China will never want a Cold War…because a Cold War would be a step backwards,” Mr Wang told reporters, via an interpreter. “We will not let other countries do this for their own private interests, while damaging the interests of other countries.”
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Top congressional Democrats and White House officials will try again on Thursday to find a compromise on another coronavirus aid package, with negotiators imposing a Friday deadline on talks.
Reports suggested some agreement has been reached, but both sides remain trillions of dollars apart on major issues including the size of supplemental unemployment payments.
“We’re trying to get a deal that’s good for the American public and American workers,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters after nearly two hours of talks on Wednesday.
“Our objective is to try to reach an understanding of the major issues by Friday. If we can’t reach an agreement on the major issues, it’s going to be hard to complete a deal.”
Congress passed more than $3 trillion (£2.8 trillion) in assistance earlier this year, but lawmakers missed a deadline last week to extend the $600 (£456) per week in enhanced unemployment payments that played a key role in propping up the economy.
Democratic leaders have pushed for a more comprehensive package of assistance for the unemployed, the poor, hospitals, schools and state and local governments.
Mr Mnuchin has warned that the Trump administration would not accept “anything close” to the new aid sought by Democrats, whilst some Senate Republicans have rejected their own party’s proposals.
On Wednesday, president Trump vowed to use executive powers to enforce eviction bans and other forms of relief for unemployed Americans. if both sides do not reach an agreement.