Did Trump blink on China to help ZTE, or his own business?

A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index and other country’s index at a securities firm in Tokyo. – AP

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted Sunday that it would be "crazy" to allow ZTE to operate in the US without tighter restrictions.

How do you feel about this situation with Trump and China? "Creating jobs in China is not one of them".

Bill Evanina, who is facing a confirmation vote to head the newly created National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that China is one of the gravest concerns that the United States has moving forward as a nation with respect to economic security.

USA 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. The block on ZTE was a heavy blow for the company but also hurt the US companies it buys from.

The sides are reportedly zeroing in on an agreement that would remove USA sanctions on the Chinese telecommunications giant, which is at risk of shutting down after the Trump administration barred domestic components manufacturers from selling to the company because it violated sanctions on doing business with Iran and North Korea.

The Wall Street Journal has reported Beijing would back away from threats to slap tariffs on US farm goods in exchange for easing the ban on selling components to ZTE. That ban was activated last month after the USA found out that ZTE failed to come clean about its operations.

On Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters that the United States would consider alternatives to a supplier ban.

As he tweeted on Monday: "ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from USA companies".

The companies are controlled by the Communist Party of China and could be used for operations to compromise US communications infrastructures, the report said.

"The U.S.is moving against ZTE because it wants to knock China out of its leading position in 5G mobile communication technology", fumed Hu Xijin, the editor of China's nationalist Global Times tabloid, in a post on the Weibo microblog platform. That's what happened over the weekend when word first leaked out that Trump was instructing his Commerce Department to reverse penalties on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

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According to data from the IDC marketing-insight firm, ZTE sources more than 40 percent of its components from the US, creating a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for suppliers like Qualcomm and Intel. The policy involves subsidizing Chinese firms so they can dominate domestic markets for hi-tech products such as artificial intelligence and new energy vehicles.

Donald Trump is probably seeking more concessions from China in the ongoing negotiations over trade disputes between the world's top two economies, by offering to re-evaluate a previous decision from the US Commerce Department that threatened the survival of Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, experts told Sputnik. Last week, China had also made its view clear that there will not be any changes in their stand in the discussions.

Despite now ceasing main business operations, China's second biggest telecom equipment maker is still trying to have the ban modified or reversed. If that's the case, the Trump administration "just got blackmailed", according to Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Both sides should try to lower tariffs as much as possible. and to take down non-tariff barriers, wherever they are", he told Politico.

The Trump administration may give ZTE a way out.

Relations between the United States and China have become fractious in recent weeks.

A security firm, Kryptowire, disclosed in 2016 that Chinese phones are loaded with software that sends a user's data to Beijing.

Hu says some members of China's liberal minority worry that the country's security fears "could cause it to close itself off, over-emphasize self-sufficiency or even revert to the era of Chairman Mao".

"ZTE did do some inappropriate things ... the question is are there alternative remedies to the ones we had originally put forward and that's the area we will be exploring very, very promptly", Mr Ross was quoted by the BBC as saying.

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