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.”
The admin’s backtrack on ZTE is another example of @POTUS being weak in the face of another nation’s leader while the GOP just follows along. @realDonaldTrump has once again broken his core promise to be tough on China simply to please President Xi & he got nothing in return.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 20, 2018
Why does @CommerceGov allow #ZTE stay in business? Why would some on conference committee cave on ZTE & settle for CFIUS reform only? ZTE is part of broader pattern of sanctions violations & illicit deals by firms with ties to #China’s military. https://t.co/MsXlL6MEJx— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 19, 2018
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.
This deal on #CFIUS is good news. The bad news? They had to cave on #ZTE in order to get it. 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. #BadTradeoffhttps://t.co/Bjew7KLaex— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 20, 2018
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.
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