Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Trump, in tweet, pledges help for Chinese telecom firm ZTE

A salesperson stands at counters selling mobile phones produced by ZTE Corp. at an appliance store in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province in a file Trump, in tweet, pledges help for Chinese telecom firm ZTE
Jodi Jackson | 14 May, 2018, 06:07

In a tweet, Mr Trump said he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to get jobs back into China.

President Donald Trump has instructed his Commerce Department to help get a Chinese telecommunications company get "back into business" after the U.S. government cut off access to its American suppliers.

The U.S. government accused ZTE of violating a March 2017 settlement in which the firm pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.19 billion for illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. According to IDC data, ZTE sources more than 40 percent of its components from the USA, creating a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for suppliers like Qualcomm and Intel.

Trump has repeatedly blasted China for what he calls unfair trade practices.

USA officials are preparing for talks in Washington with China's top trade official Liu He to resolve an escalating trade dispute. "But be cool, it will all work out!"

U.S. military exchanges also have stopped selling smartphones made by ZTE and Huawei Technologies after the Pentagon warned that the devices pose a security risk to military personnel and operations, the defence department said earlier this month. "This egregious behavior can not be ignored". In this case, ZTE's infringements are so major - trade violations and national security concerns - that it is hard to envisage the company getting a pass, even with support from the White House. During the meetings, the US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demanded China cut the trade surplus with the U.S.by $200 billion, sharply lower tariffs and advance technology subsidies, according to Reuters, which citied people familiar with the talks.

Republican Representative Robert Pittenger, a sponsor of legislation that would strengthen the USA national security review process for foreign investment, said after the Commerce ban was announced that the United States "must be vigilant against Chinese threats to both our economic security and national security". Earlier this month, the Pentagon banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones in retail stores on USA military bases, citing security concerns, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But ZTE has also always been the target of scrutiny for regulators and officials in the United States, which is wary of its ties to the Chinese government. It's also the fourth largest provider of smartphones in the United States.

Other experts said Trump's policy reversal was unprecedented.

"Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat", he said. "You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs".

ZTE denies it violated the deal and is appealing the export ban.

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