WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday rejected any plan by President Donald Trump to ease restrictions on China’s ZTE Corp (000063.SZ), calling the telecommunications firm a security threat and vowing not to abandon legislation clamping down on the company.
Trump on Monday had defended his decision to revisit penalties on ZTE for flouting U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran, in part by saying it was reflective of the larger trade deal the United States is negotiating with China.
“I hope the administration does not move forward on this supposed deal I keep reading about,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said. Bilateral talks between the world’s two biggest economies resume in Washington this week.
The Wall Street Journal has reported Beijing would back away from threats to slap tariffs on U.S. farm goods in exchange for easing the ban on selling components to ZTE.
“They are basically conducting an all-out assault to steal what we’ve already developed and use it as the baseline for their development so they can supplant us as the leader in the most important technologies of the 21st century,” Rubio said at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Asia policy.
Trump had taken to Twitter on Sunday with a pledge to help the company, which has suspended its main operations, because the penalties had cost too many jobs in China. It was a departure for a president who often touts “America First” policies.
The Commerce Department in April found ZTE had violated a 2017 settlement created after the company violated sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and banned U.S. companies from providing exports to ZTE for seven years.