As US-China Trade Talks Begin, ZTE Is In The Spotlight

2017 shows U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at their joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. ==Kyodo

President Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on December 7.

US lawmakers on Tuesday rejected any plan by President Donald Trump to ease restrictions on China's ZTE Corp, calling the telecommunications firm a security threat and vowing not to abandon legislation clamping down on the company.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with Sens.

In a statement on its website about the seven-year ban, ZTE said it was "unacceptable" that the US government "insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts". Some U.S. lawmakers have alleged equipment made by ZTE and other Chinese companies could pose a cyber security threat. "It is because they got caught helping North Korea and helping Iran evade sanctions and they were punished for it". As a result, last month, after the Commerce Department ordered US companies to stop selling components to ZTE, the company was forced to put all production activities on hold.

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

What Trump did not mention, however, is that two days before his first tweet about ZTE, "a state-owned Chinese construction company called the Metallurgical Corporation of China announced it would float a $500 million loan to Indonesian developers to facilitate the construction of a vast "integrated lifestyle resort" called MNC Lido City that includes Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course", as Vox puts it. The block on ZTE was a heavy blow for the company but also hurt the US companies it buys from. "Given the security concerns associated with these devices, as expressed by senior US intelligence officials, it was not prudent for the department's exchange services to continue selling these products to our personnel".

Democrats and some Republicans have accused Trump of grasping for any leverage he might be able to find in the trade talks with China.

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The comment took USA trade and security officials by surprise and prompted the president to say in a later tweet that ZTE buys a large amount of parts from US companies and the concession was part of "a larger trade deal with China and my personal relationship with President Xi". "Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans".

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who with Sen. In March, ZTE agreed to pay $1.2 billion, but when Commerce Department officials discovered a month later that ZTE had rewarded rather than punished the company officials responsible for the violations, it implemented a " denial order" prohibiting USA companies from selling their goods to ZTE for seven years. Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management, ZTE rewarded them.

Ross last month accused ZTE of misleading the department and warned, "This egregious behavior can not be ignored".

China's government has pressed the Trump administration in recent trade talks to lift the sanctions and the president voiced sympathy for ZTE in a tweet Sunday.

In an interview with ABC, Wyden careworn that the hyperlink between the ZTE softening and the Trump Group deal was exclusively "potential".

And none have voiced those concerns more virulently than President Trump, who has said it was a mistake to let China into the World Trade Organization in the first place. Trump seemed to overrule that a few hours later in another Twitter post.

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