Rubio: Floated ZTE demands are 'a terrible deal'

Rubio: Floated ZTE demands are 'a terrible deal'
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Senate adds members to pro-NATO group McConnell reassures Europe on Russia MORE (Fla.) on Wednesday blasted a floated deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE as "terrible" and warned the Trump administration against letting China steal U.S. intellectual property.

"Are you kidding me? $1.3 billion? And the other sanction, guess what it is? We're going to force you to buy more things from America. Well, that's not a punishment. That's a reward. That's exactly what they want. ... That's a terrible deal," Rubio said from the Senate floor. 

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Trump said on Tuesday that he had has not reached a deal with Beijing to help save ZTE, but added that he may ask for a fine of roughly $1.3 billion, new management for the telecom giant and for China to buy more American products.

But Rubio warned Trump against accepting a "short-term deal" that "historians will condemn as the beginning of the end of America's place in the world as its most influential nation."

Rubio also grilled the administration, his colleagues and the media during his floor speech for treating the trade developments with China as a "game." 

He added that unless the administration and Congress prevented Beijing and companies like ZTE from stealing intellectual secrets from the United States, historians will write that "we were fiddling while Rome was burning." 

"Most of us here do not want to live in a world [where] in 10 or 15 years ... some other country dominates the world ... because when they were displacing us, your policymakers were too busy arguing with each other and playing dumb, ridiculous games," Rubio said.

Later on Wednesday, Rubio tweeted in response to a Politico report that China’s media had joined in pressuring airlines to identify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as all being part of the same country.

"Yet another example of #China trying to bully American companies," Rubio tweeted. "These guys play hard ball. Do not feel bad for #ZTE or any Chinese company going out of business." 

Updated at 3:36 p.m.