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.

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