US President Donald Trump said Sunday he is working with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on a solution to give Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE, hit by US sanctions, a way out.
“China’s President Xi and I are working together to give the huge Chinese phone company ZTE a way to get back to business, quickly. Too many jobs lost in China. The Commerce Department has been instructed to settle this, “writes the US President on Twitter.
These remarks constitute a considerable change of tone of the American president, who has long accused China of stealing jobs from American citizens and who campaigned by promising to restore America’s grandeur.
A few days ago, the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department came together against the giant ZTE. The Commerce Department declined to comment on Sunday about President Trump’s tweet.
The US president appeared to be opening the door on ZTE, whose activity is severely disrupted by the Trump Administration’s ban on all US component exports to the telecommunications group in mid-April. , for a period of seven years.
The US administration accuses ZTE of violating its commitments on compliance with trade embargoes. This measure aims to punish the company for violating the terms of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea.
For its part, the multinational denies having violated the agreement and appealed the export ban.
On Wednesday, the Chinese giant, which achieved in 2017 a turnover of 108 billion yuan ($ 16.7 billion), announced that “the main activities of the group had ceased” following the US decision, which endangers the very survival of ZTE.
Like other major OEMs, ZTE relies on US suppliers such as Qualcomm or Intel for many of the components used in its smartphones and network equipment. The group relies among other things on US microprocessors and the Android operating system for its smartphones.
As the spearhead for developing 5G (High Speed Mobile Internet) infrastructure in China, ZTE has more than 74,000 employees. The Chinese company is the fourth largest supplier of smartphones in the United States.
The US crackdown on ZTE has been interpreted by some as part of a broader US effort to stifle China’s technological ambition.
Adam Schiff, California’s Democratic representative in the US Congress, reacted to the president’s statement saying he “should be more concerned about our national security than Chinese jobs.”
“Our intelligence agencies have warned us that ZTE technology and phones pose a serious threat to cybersecurity,” said Adam Schiff.
Donald Trump’s statement surprised many observers who were trying to understand this flip-flop.
The president has taken a firm stand against the Chinese government, accusing them of unfair trade practices. He has trumpeted his efforts to protect American jobs even if it means creating tensions or economic constraints in other countries.
“Considering the pressure he is putting on Beijing in terms of trade, I do not understand the concern for Chinese jobs,” said Adam Segal, a technology and security specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He adds, “This goes against the constant flow of security warnings about ZTE. ”
The ZTE affair is set against the background of tensions between the United States and China, with the specter of a trade war between the two countries linked to the threat of punitive US tariffs that could be put in place as early as 22 may.
The United States imports more than $ 500 billion worth of goods manufactured in China each year. Donald Trump has proposed forcing China to buy $ 200 billion worth of additional goods from the United States.
The United States denounces, among other things, massive State subsidies to strategic sectors and intellectual property transfers to foreign firms.
Donald Trump’s micromessage comes just days away from a scheduled meeting between US officials and Liu He, one of China’s most influential advisers, Xi Jinping, to discuss tense trade relations between the two countries. This meeting is supposed to take place in Washington this week or the next.
Theo O’Farrell was born and raised in Summerside. As a journalist Theo has contributed to CBC News Blog, The Calgary Herald and Buzz Feed. In regards to academics, Theo earned his sociology degree from Queens. Theor covers local news and culture stories here at Island Daily Tribune.