Senate Democrats urge Trump to focus on US over China

Senate Democrats urge Trump to focus on US over China
© Getty Images

Nearly three dozen Senate Democrats on Tuesday called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' 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 RossOn The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' Ross: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' new tariffs on China China imposes new tariffs on billion of US goods: 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.

ADVERTISEMENT


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 SchumerHouse Dems push to delay Kavanaugh vote for investigation Democrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote MORE (N.Y.), Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-Ore.) and Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment New polling shows Brown, DeWine with leads in Ohio 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.