Donald Trump does absolutely nothing simply to be nice. He is devoid of human compassion; he cares not a whit about human beings. But suddenly, Donald Trump is so concerned about the jobs of Chinese people employed by Chinese communication company ZTE that he is willing to walk back sanctions, forgive a breach by the company that could have put U.S. national security at risk. And why? We’ll get to that in just a minute.
ZTE manufactures smart phones and relies heavily on components shipped from U.S. companies. ZTE had been shipping parts and finished product to Iran and North Korea, in violation of U.S. sanctions. In light of their breach, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies from selling parts or services to ZTE. Simple, right? And ZTE, claimed it would have no choice but to go out of business without the U.S. components it so heavily relies on.
You may remember that throughout his entire campaign, Donald Trump was critical of the Chinese. In May 2016 he said …
“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing. We’re going to turn it around. And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China.”
He continually said China was manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive. And as recently as last month he was critical of China’s trade and economic policies. But now …
“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.”
Many, I hear, are not happy with this new turn, including members of Congress, some in Trump’s own camp, cabinet members, and the U.S. intelligence community. Not that Trump cares what anybody thinks, but most, including myself, were scratching our heads and wondering wtf? Even for the inconsistent Trump, this was inconsistent. But then, a possible explanation crossed my radar. Remember the game “connect the dots”? Let’s see how well you can connect the dots here …
- In the week before Trump’s reversal, the Chinese government awarded five new trademarks to his daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump. Two more were awarded afterward.
- Between ZTE receiving its fine and Trump’s reversal, a Chinese state-owned corporation announced a $500 million loan package for a theme park in a Trump-branded real estate development in Indonesia.
- Because Trump and his family did not divest themselves from the Trump Organization, they stand to gain millions of dollars from ongoing business with the Chinese government.
I leave it to you to … connect the dots.
Meanwhile, from the other side of his mouth Trump is threatening to put tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has threatened to respond with sweeping tariffs of its own. A full-blown trade war between the two countries could cause the price of goods and unemployment to surge in both countries.
Lawmakers and the intelligence community believe that in addition to its sale of equipment to US adversaries, ZTE could pose an espionage risk to the US by covertly using its cellphones for surveillance. Edward Alden, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, expressed concerns that it sends a message that “every US action is now up for negotiation in some way or other in the future.”
No, Donald Trump is not lifting the ban on ZTE in order to save jobs in China. He is not doing it to be nice, for he is anything but a nice ‘man’. Regardless of his motive, to make this decision without consulting with U.S. intelligence agencies, Congress, or even Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, was foolhardy. If his motive was personal gain for his own company and his daughter’s, then it becomes a blatant violation of ethics and just one more reason he is not qualified to sit in the Oval Office. Think about it.