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Ruppersberger Issues Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Reverse ZTE Export Ban

May 14, 2018
Press Release
Ruppersberger issued bipartisan report outlining ZTE cyber threat in 2012

(Washington, DC) — Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) today issued the following statement on President Trump’s announcement that he is directing the U.S. Commerce Department to help sanctioned Chinese tech company ZTE. The company was subjected to an export ban after it was caught shipping American goods to Iran and North Korea.

“I have been sounding the alarm bells about ZTE since 2012, when then-Chairman Mike Rogers and I issued a bipartisan report as leaders of the House Intelligence Committee declaring the company a major threat to our national security. ZTE has known ties to the Chinese state and could be used to spy against Americans, or worse, with access to our telecommunications infrastructure. 

I traveled to Hong Kong and interviewed ZTE executives – their responses were incomplete, often evasive and did nothing to alleviate our concerns.  And it wasn’t just us. The CIA, NSA and FBI have all reached similar conclusions. 

Six years later, Congress and the FCC are finally taking notice. A bipartisan bill in the House will take ZTE out of the federal supply chain. Similar provisions were included in the National Defense Authorization Act. The FCC is poised to ban the use of taxpayer money for the purchase of ZTE-made gear.

Now, just two months after blacklisting and fining ZTE, President Trump wants to grant them a reprieve, citing Chinese job losses. I never thought I would hear these words from the “America First” president. 

What is our country getting in return? And why is the President so concerned about job losses in China? He should be focused on making sure American companies – who aren’t beholden to the government and ignoring embargoes – have a fair market. China continues to rob American companies of their intellectual property at a cost of somewhere between $225 and $600 billion annually, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. And helping these adversarial companies that threaten American security will only add to their market share, closing access to American jobs in these industries and increasing prices for U.S. consumers.

The stakes here are high. Chinese telecommunications companies are producing far more equipment than their foreign competitors and the very nature of the industry could have widespread impacts on other defense efforts. President Trump must increase pressure on companies long-deemed a security threat, not give them a free pass.”