The Trump administration and China have reportedly come to an agreement that would allow U.S. firms to sell crucial components to Chinese telecoms giant ZTE. For example, U.S. officials have levied hefty restrictions against the United States operations of major Chinese phone manufacturers ZTE and Huawei. That could have had a major impact on the US wireless market, considering companies like Qualcomm derive significant revenues from sales of chipsets and other components to ZTE, and carriers like AT&T sell the company's phones in the prepaid market.
A month ago, the Commerce Department imposed harsh penalties on Chinese telecom giant ZTE, which US officials determined had not complied with a previous settlement over illicit sales to Iran and North Korea.
In Beijing earlier this month, divisions between the free-trader and protectionist wings of the USA delegation exploded, with the White House trade adviser Peter Navarro reportedly shouting and cursing at Mnuchin after being excluded from a meeting. "Trade consensus between China and the US, the two major economies in the world, is welcome news to all".
"China has made a fortune", Trump said.
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Those who are in favour of globalisation and borderless trade would have let out a sigh of relief as tensions seemed to calm, but should Senators block any deal Trump puts forward, the potential for a trade-war could well return.
His suggestion of a $1.3 billion fine was slightly more than the $1.2 billion penalty the USA imposed past year on ZTE after uncovering its trade ban violations.
Trump has already met President Xi of China for trade talks but has been characteristically unsatisfied with the results.
As if that wasn't enough, Congress appears to be united against Trump on this - both sides of the house have expressed the wish that no deal is done and that the ZTE ban remains in place. After pretty clearly violating United States trade restrictions with Iran, ZTE was heavily sanctioned earlier this year, which didn't make China happy, either.
The Senate Banking Committee also voted 23-2 to make it harder for the president to modify penalties on Chinese telecommunications firms, drawing the support of liberal Democrats like Chris Van Hollen and conservative Republicans like Tom Cotton.
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Trump also said he was not happy with trade talks with China, dampening enthusiasm among investors despite the truce declared over the weekend by Chinese and USA officials in Washington, which deflated the escalating conflict.
Representatives for the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Negotiations are now behind closed doors, so it's unlikely we'll learn much more about this deal before it is settled.
"Both parties have come together today to strongly rebuke ZTE and the administration's soft approach", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. Also favorable to China is the revelation that Mr. Trump's policy team is deeply divided and is susceptible to pressure from America's politically pivotal farm belt.
Tillis sidestepped a question about whether the president has been successful at just that, saying: "I think the president has done a good job in highlighting the disparity in our trade relationship. We will see what happens", he said. The president also wants China's help to curb North Korea and its nuclear ambitions.
China must continue to be strong & tight on the Border of North Korea until a deal is made.
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Talks between the Koreas will likely resume after Friday, once Max Thunder finishes, said Moon's media secretary, Yoon Young-chan. Trump made it clear on Thursday, however, that the summit could still happen despite the saber-rattling between the two leaders.
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