WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to consider removing restrictive measures on China’s state-owned company Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment, saying the company buys scores of parts from US companies and should therefore be part of a larger trade deal with China.
“ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from US companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi,” Trump said in a Twitter message.
On Sunday, Trump announced he may potentially remove the restrictive measures his administration had imposed on ZTE.
The announcement drew sharp criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, several of whom warned that the move could jeopardize national security.
“Instead of holding China accountable for its actions or getting tough on Iran, [Trump is] helping a Chinese company that has violated sanctions against Iran and North Korea, stepping in to help them compete against American businesses and putting our workers and national security at risk,” Congressman Steny Hoyer said in a statement.
The second-highest ranking Republican in the US Senate, John Cornyn, in an interview claimed he is concerned about removing sanctions on the China’s state-owned company because it engages in espionage.
“My main concern is they’re an arm of the Communist Party and are actively involved in espionage,” Cornyn told CNN on Monday.
Earlier, White House deputy spokesperson Raj Shah said that Trump had ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to examine the approach toward ZTE.
In April, the Trump administration banned US firms from selling telecommunications equipment to ZTE Corporation over suspicions that the Chinese company might have supplied equipment to Iran and North Korea. ZTE called the decision unfair and vowed to protect its rights.
The Trump administration is set to host a delegation of leading Chinese economic officials at the White House for trade talks later this week.