President Trump Throws ZTE A Lifeline Defying US Congress And Intelligence Agencies

US reaches deal to keep China’s ZTE in business

The Trump administration reportedly told lawmakers on Friday that it has reached a deal to keep Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE in business after the USA banned the company from buying American products for violating sanctions.

The deal, as described by congressional aides and USA officials, also requires ZTE to pay a substantial fine and hire US compliance officers tasked with ensuring it adheres to the deal. Commerce would then lift an order preventing the company from buying US products.

Trump said he was ordering a reconsideration of penalties against ZTE as a favor to the country's president, Xi Jinping, after the company estimated losses of at least $3.1 billion from the USA technology ban.

"If the administration goes through with this reported deal, President Trump would be helping make China great again", Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said Friday. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the author of the Senate provision.

The effect of the action, however, weakens the existing sanctions on ZTE.

Although the USA and China are reported to have agreed the broad outlines of a settlement over ZTE the issue has become inextricably linked with wider trade and security tensions between the two powers.

The Trump administration has pushed China to help cut the US$376 billion trade surplus with the USA, with Beijing so far making only vague commitments to buy more United States goods. An agreement previous year called for the firm to pay as much as US$1.2 billion and penalise the workers involved, in what was the largest criminal fine for the Justice Department in an export control or sanctions case.

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Shares of several American companies with exposure to ZTE rallied on the news.

"Most members of Congress have come to understand the threat China poses", Rubio said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday when asked whether President Donald Trump would sign such a measure.

Top Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who chairs a key subcommittee on foreign relations, denounced the move, and vowed lawmakers would work on "veto-proof legislation" to stop the deal. If ZTE agrees to implement the administration's demands, the Commerce Department will lift the ban on purchasing United States products.

Kingsview Asset Management's Scott Martin on reports a deal was reached to save China's ZTE. "Many hoped this time would be different".

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to travel to Beijing on June 2 for further discussions over China's aggressive push to challenge USA technological dominance. ZTE would also have to purchase a majority of its components from USA companies, which is slightly ironic, considering ZTE's reliance on US -made components got it into this situation in the first place.

The denial order was implemented after ZTE failed to respond to earlier sanctions that alleged the company sold goods containing USA parts into Iran and North Korea, a violation of sanctions against those countries. An organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C. (CREW), said the trademark deal again raises the alarm about the Trump family's global businesses and potential conflicts of interest. "... [T] he extremely short time period between the Chinese's [sic] government's loan and President Trump's order to roll back penalties on ZTE warrants a review of any applicable federal ethics regulations".

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