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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report 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 RossOvernight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions US, in reversal, does not support Brazil's entry to OECD 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 SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (N.Y.), Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry MORE (D-Ore.) and Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBlood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Trump admin abruptly delays funding for human trafficking victims: report Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group 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.