US-Congress crushes effort to ban China's ZTE; victory for Trump
US Congress is abandoning an effort to clamp down on the Chinese telecom-giant ZTE in a defense bill, essentially green-lighting the Trump administration's deal to save the company accused of selling sensitive information to hostile regimes. ZTE was almost forced out of business after being accused of selling sensitive information to nations hostile to the US, namely Iran and North Korea, violating trade laws.
Senators from both parties express outrage
Senators from both Democratic and Republican parties expressed outrage that the revised defense legislation, to be unveiled early next week, guts a provision to reinstate penalties and restrict the Chinese company's ability to buy US component parts.
This can only make the US less safe: Senator Warner
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, an architect of anti-ZTE language in the defense bill, tweeted he was surprised that House and Senate leaders negotiating the compromise "caved so easily". Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia called the outcome "a huge mistake". "Beyond frustrated that Republican leaders are caving to the Trump Administration's demands on ZTE. This can only make our country less safe," he tweeted.
Trump discusses ZTE ban with Jinping
President Trump in May warned the ban was causing heavy job losses in China, saying he discussed the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Commerce Department reached a deal with ZTE to lift the ban in June, allowing its business with the US to resume.
Rubio and Warner raise concerns about ZTE
Both the lawmakers, Rubio and Warner, are members of the Senate intelligence committee and have raised concerns about the Chinese telecom company, ZTE, and the White House's approach to it. Congress was pressured by the White House to yield, with the Trump administration making clear to lawmakers that it viewed the language as tying its hands, sources said.
What did Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer say?
Schumer said the latest outcome was another example of Trump "being weak" against foreign leaders "while Republicans just follow along". He said, "By stripping the Senate's tough ZTE sanctions provision...President Trump -and the Congressional Republicans who acted at his behest- have once again made President Xi and the Chinese Government the big winners and the American worker and our national security the big losers."
Commerce Department's decision amounted to death sentence for ZTE
US Commerce Department barred ZTE in April from importing American components for seven years after it deceived US regulators after settling sanctions violation charges last year. The ban also hurt American companies that supply ZTE. But America and China reached a deal that allows ZTE to stay in business in exchange for $1 billion additional fines and while letting US regulators monitor its operations.