President Trump has pledged to rebalance our trade relationship with China, and there are signs that he intends to make good on this promise. But his apparent intention to help a shady Chinese telecom company — one with direct ties to the Chinese government — would be a mistake.
ZTE is considered a major threat to American security. ZTE-made phones and other devices are not allowed to be sold on U.S. military bases, and American consumers have been warned to avoid purchasing ZTE products.
The company also has broken trade embargoes with Iran and North Korea. The Commerce Department rightly banned U.S. companies from providing exports to ZTE for seven years in response, which effectively puts the company out of business.
On May 13, President Trump tweeted that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ZTE “get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost.”
This is troubling. Aside from the obvious security concerns, right now the United States and China are in the middle of trade negotiations. Beijing has yet to agree to end any unfair trade practice or make any meaningful reform. There has yet to be any real progress on trade issues that cost American jobs.
Giving China this concession would be a grave mistake, one that hurts our negotiating power and threatens our national security. It’s time to get tough on China, not give in to their demands.