Rubio: Trump’s ZTE Flip Is ‘Crazy’

Kyle Perisic | Contributor

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to help Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, tweeting it’s “crazy” that he would be willing to assist a company so closely tied to the Chinese government.

The Commerce Department banned the sale of ZTE products in the U.S. on April 16 for seven years for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea, Reuters reported. Trump tweeted on Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping “are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”

Rubio said in a tweet on Monday the “[p]roblem with ZTE isn’t jobs & trade, it’s national security & espionage.” (RELATED: Pentagon Orders Military To Halt Sale Of Chinese Phones Citing Security Threats)

He added: “Any telecomm firm in #China can be forced to act as tool of Chinese espionage without any court order or any other review process. We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions.”

Trump tried to alleviate concerns about his decision in a follow-up tweet on Sunday aimed at critics to “be cool, it will all work out!”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said Trump was highlighting the “importance of a free, fair, balanced, and mutually beneficial economic, trade and investment relationship,” The Hill reported.

A quarter of ZTE’s components come from U.S. tech companies like Intel and Qualcomm. In a response, ZTE said the ban “will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damages to all partners of ZTE including a large number of US companies.”

Rubio said in a follow-up tweet that he hopes “this isn’t the beginning of backing down to China. While Chinese companies have unrestricted access to U.S. market & protection of our laws many U.S. companies have been ruined after #China blocked market access or stole their intellectual property.”

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