Trump Makes Clear That His Administration's Real National Security Policy Is China First
The nation's top counterintelligence official warned the Senate Intelligence panel Tuesday that Chinese telecom giant ZTE presents a major national security risk, starting with U.S. consumers. NBC News writes:
Under questioning by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., [Bill] Evanina said U.S. intelligence agencies are on record as assessing that Chinese telecommunication firms are used as a vehicle by the Chinese government to conduct espionage.
And, answering a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., he said he would never use a ZTE phone.
In February, six intelligence chiefs advised U.S. consumers against buying smart phones produced by Chinese companies, including ZTE specifically, and in April, the Pentagon pulled the phones from the shelves at U.S. military bases.
ZTE is the firm Donald Trump has suddenly taken a personal interest in, fretting over its job losses after his own U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on it just weeks ago. Trump now says he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are "working together" to get ZTE "back into business, fast." Meanwhile, the Chinese government is pouring $500 million into a Trump Organization real estate development, which accounts for fully one-half of the development's projected budget.
ZTE's emergence on Trump's radar was no accident—it was part of a list of demands China made as Trump officials enter into a second round of bilateral trade talks with the Chinese government.
The Washington Post's Josh Rogin writes:
The Chinese proposal is entitled, “Framework Arrangement on Promoting Balanced Development on Bilateral Trade,” and I obtained an English version of the document, which is the Chinese government’s negotiating position heading into the next round of talks. That round begins this week when Xi Jinping’s special economic envoy Liu He returns to town.
Bullet point 5 is entitled, “Appropriately handling the ZTE case to secure global supply chain.”
“Having noted China’s great concern about the case of ZTE, the U.S. will listen attentively to ZTE’s plea, consider the progress and efforts ZTE has made in compliance management and announce adjustment to the export ban,” the document states.
In negotiating terms, that means Trump is giving away the very leverage point that's putting the squeeze on China in exchange for exactly nothing, except putting U.S. consumers and our country as a whole at risk.
But that $500 million sure is a sweet deal. And in case there was any doubt about Trump's motivations, on Monday he framed it as a "personal" favor to President Xi.