Did I say Chinese jobs? I meant American jobs says new Trump Tweet
Jobs, schmobs: ZTE's about national security, stupid, say Republicans
United States president Donald Trump appears to have tried to get back to making America great again, rather than saving jobs in China, with a new Tweet about Chinese network kit-maker ZTE.
Trump yesterday Tweeted that the US Commerce Department’s recent imposition of penalties on ZTE meant “Too many jobs in China lost” and that he and Chinese president Xi Jinping were “working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”
Which didn’t go down well for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, US intelligence agencies aren’t keen on ZTE, as former FBI operative David Gomez wrote.
Wow. I rarely comment on POTUS tweets but this one deserves a response. Telecommunications companies like ZTE use their devices and networks to compile intelligence on behalf of the Chinese govt. That is just a fact. #28YearsInIntelSaysSo https://t.co/GbTjYobDYC— DCGomez (@AllThingsNatSec) May 13, 2018
Republican senator Marco Rubio had similar feedback for president Trump.
Problem with ZTE isn’t jobs & trade, it’s national security & espionage. Any telecomm firm in #China can be forced to act as tool of Chinese espionage without any court order or any other review process. We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions https://t.co/AXtTDgufc9— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 14, 2018
Rubio also Tweeted “I hope this isn’t the beginning of backing down to China. While Chinese companies have unrestricted access to U.S. market & protection of our laws many U.S. companies have been ruined after #China blocked market access or stole their intellectual property”
The Trump administration is no stranger to criticism from within its own party, but has mostly avoided alienating its base of voters.
Which was Trump's other problem, because he he campaigned on restoring American jobs, not Chinese jobs. Hence this new Tweet on Monday.
ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
By mentioning US companies, Trump’s telling American voters why he cares about ZTE’s fate. And by mentioning president Xi he re-enforces his claim he’s a master negotiator and relationship-builder.
The Register has encountered two schools of thought on this incident. One suggests that policy-by-Tweet has seen Trump commit to unwinding sanctions on ZTE that his own administration imposed, which is a blunder given ZTE's security sensitivities. The other argument suggests that ZTE's significance to both nations makes creates a timely and convenient moment at which Trump and Xi can do a deal, enhance their standing as statesmen, and then address other aspects of the US/China trade spat with a win under their belts.
ZTE, meanwhile, is in the odd position of having the two most powerful leaders in the world debate its fate. ®