Senate Democrats urge Trump to focus on US over China

Senate Democrats urge Trump to focus on US over China
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Nearly three dozen Senate Democrats on Tuesday called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE to put U.S. jobs and national security ahead of China.

The senators urged the president to change course after Trump tweeted on Sunday that he has directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFederal judge refuses to delay ruling on census citizenship question Washington bureaucrats are handing China keys to 5G kingdom EU prepared to respond to possible Trump auto tariffs MORE to look at easing penalties imposed on China-based phone maker ZTE.

“Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans,” the senators wrote in a letter to Trump. 

“Bargaining away law enforcement power over bad actors such as ZTE undermines the historically sharp distinction between sanctions and export control enforcement and routine trade decisions made by the U.S.,” they wrote.

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The Chinese firm has been flagged for violations that include selling sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions laws.

“American workers and companies confront rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, agricultural policies that disadvantage American farmers, restrictions on market access for U.S. service providers and manufacturers, and mercantilist industrial policies that have cost U.S. workers their jobs,” they wrote.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he is prepared to ease the ban if China is willing to make concessions in ongoing trade talks.

Trump stunned congressional Republicans and Democrats when he tweeted that he has talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping and that he had ordered the Commerce Department to get ZTE “back into business, fast.”

“Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump wrote.

The company shut down operations after being hit by a $1.2 billion fine and pleading guilty to knowingly violating U.S. sanctions laws.

ZTE agreed to paying a fine and a multi-year denial of export privileges.

U.S. officials recently went to China to open trade talks about Beijing's unfair trade practices. Top Chinese officials are expected to arrive in Washington later this week for more negotiations.

“Your order comes as your administration is in the midst of discussions with China to address China’s market-distorting policies and other tactics to undermine key American industries,” the letter said.

“Beyond appearing to risk American national security, the statement suggests that the administration is not serious about addressing the many economic challenges China presents.”

The letter, led by Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (N.Y.), Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules | Chamber launching ad blitz against Trump drug plan | Google offers help to dispose of opioids Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules after 18,000 lose coverage in Arkansas Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes MORE (D-Ore.) and Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Dems set Tuesday vote on Trump's emergency declaration | Most Republicans expected to back Trump | Senate plots to avoid fall shutdown drama | Powell heading before Congress Brown, Rubio trade barbs over ‘dignity of work’ as Brown mulls presidential bid Harry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus MORE (D-Ohio), said that China’s trade policies have devastating effects.

The senators urged Trump to focus on reshaping China's policies and look specifically at forced technology transfer policies, data localization policies and foreign investment restrictions.

If Commerce follows through on Trump’s order it would reverse a law enforcement decision by Ross to impose a seven-year denial of export privileges on ZTE, the lawmakers said.

The Chinese company has called Commerce's punishment excessive and unfair, and has said that they are in compliance with U.S. law and denies charges that it works with the Chinese government to spy on Americans.