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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trump aims to help Chinese firm ZTE

Por Damian

Last Monday President Donald Trump defended his effort to help Chinese telecoms company ZTE, despite violating the sanctions imposed by the United States, and that both Democrats and Republicans believe the company represents a national security risk. "ZTE, the big Chinese telephone company, buys a large percentage of individual components from companies in the United States", Trump tweeted.

"This is also a reflection of the broader trade agreement we negotiated with China and my personal relationship with President Xi", added the President. Over the weekend, Trump surprised many when he tweeted that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping "collaborate" to offer ZTE "a way to get back to work soon", and that many jobs in China were at stake after The US government cut off access to its US suppliers.

The surprising gesture of empathy with China drastically departs from Trump's rhetoric towards China during his campaign, when he said he would no longer allow China to "rape our country" and steal US jobs.

Last month, the Commerce Department banned ZTE Corp., a major supplier of telecommunications and cellular networks based in southern China, importing US components for seven years. The United States accused ZTE of cheating US regulators on sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

"ZTE did some inappropriate things. They have admitted that", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington. "

The question is, are there some alternative solutions to the one we had originally proposed? And that is the area that we will be exploring very, very soon", Ross declared. He did not clarify what other options are on the table.

The unexpected announcement of Trump on Sunday comes at a time when both countries are preparing for additional trade talks this week in the US capital. Given previous promises to curb the flow of US jobs to China and what he has called unfair business practices, Trump's apparent preoccupation with Chinese jobs is like a somersault.

"Reversing the decision on ZTE could temporarily ease trade tensions, allowing China to make concessions to the United States without looking bad", said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University in New York.

But the measure was criticized by legislators from both parties. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted on Sunday that it would be "crazy" to allow ZTE to operate in the United States without more severe restrictions. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer accused Trump of "reversing" and "doing a 180 on China."

In the White House, spokesman Raj Shah said Trump's request to Ross to reexamine the issue was part of a "give and take" with the Chinese. ZTE, a company with more than 70,000 employees that has supplied some of the largest telecommunications firms in the world, said in early May that it had suspended its main operations as a result of US sanctions.