Singapore Markets closed

Republican Rubio threatens 'veto-proof congressional action' to check Trump's move to save Chinese company ZTE

Jacob Pramuk

Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he would push for "veto-proof congressional action" to check the Trump administration's reported deal to save Chinese telecommunications company ZTE .

Washington and Beijing have discussed the framework of a deal for the U.S. to lift the ban on American companies selling goods to the firm in favor of possible management changes and fines, according to The Wall Street Journal. China could also remove tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. agricultural products, the newspaper reported.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, has consistently opposed Trump's push to save ZTE in recent weeks. He has called the company's products a national security and surveillance risk.

In a tweet Tuesday, he said the deal would mean the Trump administration has "surrendered" to China and argued changes to the company board and a financial penalty will not stop "spying" and "stealing."

"But this is too important to be over. We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action," the senator wrote.

A spokeswoman for Rubio did not immediately respond to a request for more detail on legislation Rubio could pursue. Representatives for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer , D-N.Y., did not immediately respond when asked whether they would support congressional action related to ZTE.


The U.S. put the ban on American firms selling to ZTE after the company violated U.S. sanctions on North Korea and Iran. The move threatened to cripple the company.

Trump's action to save ZTE comes as the U.S. and China seek a trade pact to avoid potentially devastating tariffs. Trump has long pledged to crack down on alleged intellectual property theft by Chinese companies and reduce the American trade deficit with China. After talks last week, Trump's top advisors said they reached the framework of a trade deal under which China would buy more U.S. goods , but American officials provided few concrete details.

Trump's economic advisors have called the ZTE policy an "enforcement" issue separate from trade negotiations . But Trump himself has confused the messaging, at one point calling the ZTE action part of a "larger trade deal" the sides are negotiating.

Schumer, like Rubio, has accused Trump of caving to Chinese demands after pledging to take a tough stance on Beijing's alleged trade abuses. In a statement Tuesday, the Senate Democratic leader said the reported deal on ZTE "will do nothing to protect American national or economic security" and is "simply a diversion from the fact we have lost."

"President Xi has played President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin," Schumer added.