Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has responded to President Trump’s bewildering tweet promising to help Chinese telecom giant ZTE “get back into business, fast” after “too many jobs in China lost” today.
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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. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
ZTE announced on Wednesday that it had halted “major operating activities” after the Commerce Department banned shipments of American-made microchips, software, and other electronic components for seven years because of the company’s failure to fully cooperate with U.S. trade bans on North Korea and Iran.
With 75,000 employees, the sudden loss of so many jobs at once is a major concern for China, which seeks to minimize labor conflicts as a source of potential social unrest.
American telecom companies have been advised by the U.S. intelligence agencies to avoid using equipment purchased from ZTE and other Chinese telecom equipment makers like Huawei because of national security concerns over potential backdoor hacking points that could be embedded in the foreign-made technology.
Still, ZTE managed to rise to become the fourth largest smartphone brand in the U.S. despite the security warnings.
Trump’s sudden change of heart towards trade with China caused heads to ricochet this morning as he swung back from retaliatory tariffs to make up for the “Massive Trade Deficit” between China and the U.S. to spending American resources on helping a Chinese company that manufactures telecommunications equipment that competes with U.S. companies in the same field.
Senator Schumer tweeted a simple message in reply to the president that expressed exactly what everyone has been thinking when they saw Trump’s bizarre statement.
How about helping some American companies first? https://t.co/S1t2cQ4dwJ
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 13, 2018
In an American economy that is now reporting record low unemployment, wages have stagnated in comparison to corporate profits, high paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced with minimum-wage service jobs or benefit-free “gig economy” positions, and manufacturing jobs like those that Trump famously promised to save at the Carrier plant in Indiana are still being shipped overseas to benefit corporate profits over the American middle class.
Senator Schumer is as surprised as the rest of America at the sudden shift of sentiment from the president who famously campaigned under the same “America First” slogan that U.S. Nazi sympathizers used prior to the American entry into World War II.
While some progressives might make the argument that American companies have already gotten more than the help they deserved with the passage of the Republican tax scam, the fact is that whatever aid being promised to help keep ZTE alive could be spent instead on our crumbling infrastructure, restoring social services cut by hypocritical Republicans anxious to give corporations a tax break at the expense of ordinary citizens, or any one of a number of crucially under-funded initiatives.
Any of this would be better than Trump’s new “China First” policy.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.