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US senators aim to block Trump’s ZTE deal, enacted as a personal favour to the Chinese president

It came to light across the weekend that President Trump’s vow to ensure the survival of Chinese-owned mobile manufacturer ZTE was in fact a personal favour Chinese president Xi Jinping. Now, ZTE’s saving grace has been challenged as senators make a move on blocking Trump’s deal.

President Trump has previously spoken up about his reversal of ZTE’s harsh punishments, stating that the decision had been made in order to save jobs in both China and the US. The president’s assistant Peter Navarro offered a very different reason when speaking with Fox News on Sunday, revealing that the new deal was concocted “as a personal favor to the president of China as a way of showing some goodwill for bigger efforts, such as the one here in Singapore.”

While Trump has been in talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un during a summit in Singapore, the bigger efforts in this case refer to the ongoing trade war between the US and China. ZTE has been just one causality of this war, after the US imposed a crippling 7-year ban for previous offenses, preventing the manufacturer from dealing with key suppliers in the United States.

Image: Donald Trump by REUTERS/Brian Snyder

US politicians across both the Democratic and Republican parties have voiced their displeasure at Trump’s suddenly changed stance, with Democrat Chuck Schumer previously stating that “there is absolutely no good reason that ZTE should get a second chance, and this decision marks a 180 degree turn away from the president’s promise to be tough on China.”

In an attempt to prevent ZTE from accessing American companies, a bipartisan group of US senators has imposed a renewed ban on the company, alongside Chinese-owned Huawei, into an amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Lawmakers will conduct a vote on the amended act this week, which will in turn escalate to the House version if the vote passes.

KitGuru Says: With many highlighting the national security risks posed by ZTE and other Chinese companies, it’s understandable that lawmakers would be on edge about Trump’s decision. Of course, doing a personal favour for a rival nation seems to have made things worse, but there could be more politics behind the move that hasn’t made the public eye.

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