- The Washington Times
Friday, July 20, 2018

Congress will back off ZTE Corp. crackdowns in the latest defense spending bill, which means President Trump’s deal with the Chinese company will stand, two senators confirmed on social media Friday.

Bloomberg broke the story Friday afternoon, reporting that anonymous sources said negotiators from both chambers agreed to remove language imposing harsher sanctions on the foreign telecommunications company. The House’s earlier version included the tougher restrictions, while the Senate’s legislation included a sales ban.

In June, the bipartisan members of the Senate pledged to roll back the president’s lenient punishment of a $1 billion fine.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer effectively confirmed Bloomberg’s report on Twitter Friday afternoon.

Mr. Schumer, a vocal critic of ZTE and the president’s deal, responded to the report Friday on Twitter, saying Mr. Trump and Republicans have “once again made President Xi and the Chinese Govt. the big winners and the American worker and our national security the big losers.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been a vocal opponent of ZTE, as well as another Chinese phone company Huawei.

On Thursday, the senator tweeted that ZTE continues to be a part of a “broader pattern of sanctions violations and illicit deals by firms with ties to China’s military.”

Hours later, the Florida senator tweeted that the ZTE crackdown was scrapped in order to secure a deal to strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. He described the move as a “#BadTradeoff.”

“So chances that a China controlled telecomm will not just stay in business, but do so here inside the U.S. sadly just went up,” Mr. Rubio wrote.

The Pentagon banned the sale of ZTE and Huawei products in May, saying both posed a potential security threat to the Department of Defense personnel.

If the president’s ZTE deal is allowed to stand, it would mark a stark difference in the approach Mr. Trump has recently taken toward China as the two nations are still locked in an ongoing trade war.

Friday morning, the president slammed the U.S. rival for manipulating currency and creating a “not level playing field” for trade. China is currently on the receiving end of a World Trade Organization dispute filed by the U.S. for employing retaliatory tariffs.

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.