President America First will be … Making China Great Again! Just as he promised the forgotten men and women in Real Murika on the campaign trail.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
What the hell are we looking at here?
Funny story! In March the Commerce Department slapped a $1.19 billion fine on China’s second largest telecommunications producer, ZTE, after finding that it massively violated US sanctions on North Korea and Iran.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross got to play Tough Grandpa:
We are putting the world on notice: The games are over. […] Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished – they will suffer the harshest of consequences. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will be aggressively enforcing strong trade policies with the dual purpose of protecting American national security and protecting American workers.
Then he nodded off for his afternoon nap. But the message was clear. The US is not going to take shit from China no more!
Except … sometimes they punch back!
Remember how trade wars were going to be so awesome and easy to win?
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
Trump announced tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in January. Followed by steel and aluminum tariffs in March. GRRRR! MAGA!
Because we are governed by dipshits, these tariffs had a greater impact on our European allies than on China. But the Chinese are not governed by dipshits, so their retaliatory tariffs hit Trump with surgical precision.
Oh, you wanna fuck with us, they said. Well, how about we slap a 25 percent levy on pork, soybeans, and aircraft parts? And just for good measure, a 15 percent tariff on all that lovely ginseng those farmers in Wisconsin ship to us. Good luck in those midterms!
Be cool, dude!
Last month, the Commerce Department barred US companies from exporting parts to ZTE for seven years, finding that it continued to violate sanctions by shipping product to North Korea and Iran.
There is also serious concern that the Chinese government forces producers to build backdoors into all their technology to allow for government spying. Which is why the Defense Department banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on military bases, and GOP Rep. Mike Conaway introduced a bill to bar US government agencies from using their equipment.
Problem with ZTE isn’t jobs & trade, it’s national security & espionage. 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 https://t.co/AXtTDgufc9
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 14, 2018
You tell ’em, Marco! And then you go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done when they inevitably make you take it all back tomorrow.
Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs. https://t.co/7Ygh7805jg
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 13, 2018
WHATEVER! Donald Trump doesn’t need those Deep State Obama holdover nerds to tell him what’s good for America. Trump and Xi Jinping had a long talk over chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago. So now he understands how important it is to save those Chinese factory jobs.
China and the United States are working well together on trade, but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China, for so many years, that it is hard for them to make a deal that benefits both countries. But be cool, it will all work out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
Yeah, guys. CHILL OUT!
But … can he do that?
Well, shit! None of those spineless idiots in Congress are going to stop him, right?
The answer is, NO, IT IS VERY NOT OKAY FOR A PRESIDENT TO INTERVENE IN A LEGAL REGULATORY ACTION! The Commerce Department determined that ZTE violated sanctions, and now Trump is ordering them to change their conclusions of fact and law to offer Trump an off-ramp in the escalating trade war.
Which is why Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dispatched to say that Trump would not be ordering the Commerce Department “to get it done.” What he meant was, he’d ask Wilbur Ross “to exercise his independent judgment…to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”
Be cool, Sarah!
“I am speechless,” said Kevin Wolf, who oversaw the launch of the ZTE case as assistant secretary of commerce in the Obama administration. “I’m highly confident that a [US] president has never intervened in a law-enforcement matter like this before.” https://t.co/Kkbnaom2m0
— Shawn Donnan (@sdonnan) May 13, 2018
And no, both sides do not do this.
Oh, fine! The US government sanctioned this huge Chinese phone company for selling to the Iranians and the North Koreans. The CIA, NSA and DOD don’t want Americans to buy the phones, which probably allow the Chinese to spy on us. But the Chinese government threatened to kick Trump in the soybeans by pissing off redstate farmers, so now Trump says we’d BIGLY LOVE to buy those beautiful Chinese phones. Even though the company is still selling to the Iranians.
Also, the Iranians are terrible, and we are pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement and ramping up sanctions on them.
THIS IS FINE.
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