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House committee rebukes Trump on ZTE
The House Appropriations Committee unanimously accepted an amendment to an appropriations bill on Thursday that reinforces sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, a rebuke to President Trump, who earlier this week tweeted support for the company.
"This amendment would prevent the Commerce Department from renegotiation of the sanctions it just enacted last month on ZTE," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who authored the amendment to the 2019 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.
The Commerce Department slapped heavy sanctions on the Chinese company last month, banning it from using American components in its parts and effectively causing the company to shut down its U.S. operations.
The company had broken U.S. trade control laws by selling components to Iran and North Korea.
On Sunday, Trump did a surprising about-face on his typically tough China rhetoric, declaring in a tweet, "President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"
The tweet shocked lawmakers in both parties given the support for the sanctions and Trump's own bellicose rhetoric on China.
Lawmakers say ZTE has been a national security threat, not only breaking American sanctions, but allegedly stealing intellectual property on behalf of the Chinese government.
"Supporting this amendment will show that the U.S. government stands behind the sanctions that it enacts, and will enforce them. It also further prevents foreign companies beholden to their governments from further infiltrating our U.S. networks," said Ruppersberger.