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Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Representing the 2nd District of Maryland

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Ruppersberger Issues Statement on Reported Trump-China Deal to Prop ZTE

May 22, 2018
Press Release
Ruppersberger amendment blocking ZTE bailout unanimously approved by Appropriations Committee

(Washington, DC) — Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) today issued the following statement amid reports that the Trump Administration is moving forward on a deal to ease sanctions placed against Chinese telecom company ZTE in April:

“When the United States enacts sanctions, we should stand behind them. We are a nation of laws. The rules of the game are simple: conduct your business pursuant to the law. Renegotiating the terms of sanctions in place against ZTE sends a dangerous message that we are weak and yielding under the right circumstances. The whole point of sanctions is to hit countries and companies who break the law where they hurt – their wallets. Money talks.

But in the case of Chinese telecom company ZTE, these sanctions also threaten a tool in their government’s intelligence collection efforts. Our own intelligence community has long  suspected that ZTE is subsidized by the Chinese government – which already facilitates as much as $600 billion a year in intellectual property theft from American companies, according to the U.S. Trade Representative – and is used to spy on Americans through the cell phone components and devices they manufacture. When they have their hardware in American technology, the Chinese have the ability to listen to American phone conversations or access our emails. We know they are already doing this in other countries. It’s no wonder that President Xi is working so hard to convince the Trump Administration to ease these sanctions. 

ZTE was sanctioned in April after it was caught shipping American-made goods to Iran and North Korea. Then the company violated a deal with the U.S. by not penalizing the executives who were responsible and lying about it. This is unacceptable. The good news is that both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree – my amendment blocking President Trump’s ZTE bailout passed the Appropriations Committee unanimously last week. Just today, the Senate Banking Committee overwhelmingly passed an amendment to do the same by a 23-2 margin. 

I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue pursuing efforts to maintain strict sanctions against ZTE using all legislative vehicles at our disposal. Nobody should get a free pass, least of all a foreign company that ignores embargoes and could be used to infiltrate the devices and networks that are indispensable to American life.”