wei28_Cindy OrdGetty Images_USflagtiktok Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The US May Lose in Trump’s TikTok War

US President Donald Trump's apparent attempt to force the sale of Chinese social-media app TikTok to an American buyer introduces substantial risks – not least to US firms. By acting as if there were no rules to international business, Trump is all but ensuring that there won't be.

NEW YORK – Following US President Donald Trump’s vow to block US access to TikTok, the popular short-video app’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has been in frantic talks with Microsoft, presumably to sell its subsidiary quickly before the ban goes into effect.

Of course, it is possible – even likely – that Trump’s real intent is not so much to ban TikTok as to force a fire sale to a US buyer. Trump has said that he wants the buyer to be “very American,” and has even mused that the acquiring company should pay the US government a fee for driving the price down with its threatened ban.

Although Trump’s actions could yield a short-term gain for the United States, they have introduced severe potential risks to US interests, not to mention to international and domestic rules of commerce. After all, what would happen to business confidence if governments assumed that they could extort private enterprises at will?