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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 RossThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Ross in Trump's crosshairs after census loss: report 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 SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE (N.Y.), Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform MORE (D-Ore.) and Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrat Sherrod Brown torches Facebook at hearing: 'They broke journalism, helped incite a genocide' Trump puts hopes for Fed revolution on unconventional candidate Budowsky: Harris attacked Biden, helped Trump 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.