Rubio: ZTE a greater threat than steel from Argentina and Europe

Rubio: ZTE a greater threat than steel from Argentina and Europe
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAna Navarro lashes out at Rubio for calling outrage over Trump's 'go back' tweet 'self righteous' US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-Fla.) on Thursday decried the Trump administration's deal to revive ZTE, warning that the Chinese telecommunications company is a "greater national security threat" than the steel or aluminum that is subject to new U.S. tariffs.

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"This 'deal' with #ZTE may keep them from selling to Iran and North Korea. That’s good. But it will do nothing to keep us safe from corporate & national security espionage. That is dangerous. Now Congress will need to act to keep America safe from #China," Rubio tweeted.

"I assure you with 100% confidence that #ZTE is a much greater national security threat than steel from Argentina or Europe," he added, taking a swipe at the administration's reasoning for imposing steep tariffs on U.S. allies.

The Commerce Department announced Thursday morning that it had reached a deal to lift penalties on ZTE, while implementing new guidelines for compliance.

“The purpose of this settlement is to modify ZTE’s behavior while setting a new precedent for monitoring to assure compliance with U.S. law,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

The department in April banned American companies from selling components to ZTE because the Chinese firm violated U.S. sanctions by selling equipment to Iran. 

The Defense Department had also banned the sale of ZTE phones and products near U.S. military bases over fears that the company’s technology could be used by the Chinese government for espionage.

However, the company was given new life in May when President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE tweeted that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help the company find “a way to get back into business, fast.”

Trump's willingness to aid the Chinese telecommunications giant drew criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Rubio was among those who expressed concerns that assisting ZTE would pose an economic and national security threat to the U.S.