U.S. 'looking for a deal' with China on trade: White House adviser

17 May, 2018, 07:04 | Author: Angel Logan
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Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) said he was "pretty concerned" and "blown away" by President Donald Trump's recent announcement that the US would help to revive Chinese phone company ZTE, in a move that seems like a stark departure from the president's usual "America First" rhetoric.

The president surprised many in Washington over the weekend by saying he's working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ZTE "get back into business, fast". But in a series of tweets on Wednesday, Trump caused confusion by saying the ZTE issue "pertains to the larger trade deal".

"Our country has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year with China", he said.

He also said he had not yet seen China's demands, adding "the USA has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years".

This week's meetings follow US-China trade talks in Beijing earlier this month where the two countries failed to reach an agreement on the long list of US demands.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday: "There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe, the meetings haven't even started yet!" According to a document seen by Bloomberg News, Beijing asked the U.S.to open government procurement to Chinese firms, and soften the Commerce Department penalty on ZTE, among other things. "China has much to give!"

Wyden, who is also on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was one of 32 Senate Democrats who on Tuesday signed a letter accusing Trump of putting China's interests ahead of United States jobs and national security.

Trump tweeted his support for ZTE earlier this week, putting the president at odds with the Commerce Department and its decision to impose trade restrictions on the company amid allegations it violated US sanctions.

In retaliation to that China threatened to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of USA exports.

ZTE was fined $1.2 billion in March 2017, but last month it was hit with a steeper sanction, prohibiting USA firms from supplying the telecommunication equipment maker with needed parts.

The company shut its main operations after the Commerce Department last month banned USA companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years for violating the terms of a settlement deal for illegally shipping goods made with US parts to Iran and North Korea.

Uncertainty over relations between the USA and China has roiled financial markets and raised concerns among businesses anxious about a trade war.

USA companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of components used in ZTE's equipment, which includes smartphones and gear to build telecommunications networks.

A Chinese delegation was due to hold talks in Washington this week, with both sides threatening to impose massive tariffs on each other's exports.

Republican US Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the US House Committee on Armed Services, said at a Bloomberg event on Tuesday that he did not expect lawmakers would seek to remove a ban on ZTE technology from a must-pass annual defense policy bill making its way through Congress. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, tweeted Tuesday.

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