President Donald Trump said that he would approve a sale of TikTok to Microsoft if the Treasury gets a “large” cut of the transaction price, CNN reports.
Trump said on Monday that TikTok has until September 15 to find a buyer or be banned in the US.
He bizarrely added that any deal would have to include a “substantial amount of money” to the US Treasury.
"Right now they don't have any rights unless we give it to them. So if we're going to give them the rights, then ... it has to come into this country," he said. "It's a great asset, but it's not a great asset in the United States unless they have approval in the United States."
"Whether it's Microsoft or somebody else, or if it's the Chinese — what the price is, the United States could — should get a very large percentage of that price. Because we're making it possible," he added.
Attorneys were stunned by Trump’s bizarre demand.
"This is quite unusual, this is out of the norm," former Justice Department Antitrust Division chief Gene Kimmelman told CNN. "It's actually quite hard to understand what the president is actually talking about here. ... It's not unheard of for transactions to have broader geopolitical implications between countries, but it's quite remarkable to think about some kind of money being on the table in connection with a transaction."
"It was unclear under what authority the White House could demand such a payment," The Washington Post noted.
China accuses US of “open robbery”:
Chinese state media heavily criticized Trump’s demand.
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times newspaper, said the demand would amount to "an open robbery,” according to Business Insider.
"The world is watching and God is watching that how President Trump is turning the once great America into a rogue country," he wrote.
The China Daily published an editorial warning that "China will by no means accept the 'theft' of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab."