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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seeks to acquire TikTok

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday (March 14) that he would form an investor group to try to acquire TikTok. A day earlier, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would have faced a U.S. ban if ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, does not agree to sell the popular video app.

Steven Mnuchin, who served in former President Donald Trump’s cabinet, told CNBC that TikTok, which has more than 170 million U.S. users, “should be owned by American companies. China will never. You’re not going to let an American company have something like this in China.”

Steven Mnuchin did not provide details about who might be included in the investor group or TikTok’s possible valuation. TikTok is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese technology company ByteDance and is the overseas version of Douyin.

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby said Thursday, when asked about Steven Mnuchin’s comments, “I don’t know any context on this. We remain committed to continuing to provide some technical support and assistance to Congress. The bill just passed the House and went to the Senate, and we want to see the Senate act quickly on it.”

He added, “Our focus is on making sure we provide them with the context and information that we think is important so that this bill can actually work and address our national security concerns about TikTok.”

Due to concerns that TikTok‘s current ownership and use in the United States poses a threat to U.S. national security, the House of Representatives voted 352 to 65 to require the sale of the app. The legislation’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.

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Senators said they would thoroughly review the House-passed bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would have to consult with relevant committee chairs to determine how to handle the bill.

President Joe Biden said he would sign the measure into law if both houses of Congress pass it.

TikTok denies it can be used as a tool by the Chinese government. The company said it has never shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities and would not do so if asked. The U.S. government has also provided no evidence that TikTok shared any such information with Chinese authorities.

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