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VIDEO: Rubio: Trade and ZTE’s National Security Threat Shouldn’t be Mixed

May 22, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum to discuss the need to rebalance U.S. trade with China and the national security threat posed by Chinese state-directed telecommunications firms like ZTE, in light of recent news reports indicating that the Administration has agreed to the broad outlines of a trade deal that would lift a ban on U.S. companies selling components and software to ZTE.
Earlier this month, Rubio delivered remarks on the Senate floor and introduced legislation to protect American workers from China’s economic aggression. The bill would prohibit the federal government, or subsidiaries/contractors, from purchasing telecommunications equipment or services from Huawei and ZTE. Rubio also recently wrote an op-ed on his legislation, outlining how to counter these economic tools of aggression used by Beijing.
A partial and rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks are transcribed below.
Rubio: Here’s what concerns me. First of all, trade and ZTE are two separate issues. They shouldn’t be mixed. We have a huge trade problem with China. It’s structural, it’s not just how much they buy from us, it’s what they do to our companies. They force our companies to turn over intellectual property, secrets. You can’t do business in China unless you do that, if you can do it at all. Meanwhile their companies can do whatever they want here. That’s what has to be fixed because that’s long term and it’s problematic. ZTE is a cell phone and technology company. They got caught violating the Iran sanctions and North Korea. And they got hit with a billion dollar fine and they were told they had to fire the employees who did that. You know what they did? They didn’t do it. They lied. They didn’t fire those employees, they gave them a bonus and they tried to cover that up as well like they tried to cover up the violation. So now we hit them, and said “fine, you can’t buy our semiconductors anymore” and that put them out of business. And that’s a good move. That’s what we need to be doing when people are violating these things. But now it appears as though some are saying, “well, let’s fine them again and let’s make them change the board of directors.” That’s the same deal they broke already once. Meanwhile, all these phone companies, they have to report to the Chinese government. You use those phones, and they can steal those secrets, they can spy on us, they even have subcontractors in ZTE that work for but people right now could be using ZTE and Huawei technology and not even know it because it says AT&T or something on it. But it’s theirs.

You’ve said something that I actually disagree with. This is not the way we’ve always done it, the way we’ve actually always done it is the way they’re going now. That is the Chinese go to a bunch of American companies and that is the semiconductor companies or some others and they go to them and say, can you go to the White House and Congress to lobby them and change their mind? That’s what they do, and then we back off. Every President before now has backed off on China and that’s why they’ve gained this advantage on us. Number 2, here is the problem, North Korea is in China’s interest, it’s in China’s interest because if North Korea and Kim Jong-Un goes down you will have a bunch of North Koreans coming across the border. They’re not doing us any favor helping us with North Korea, they’re closer to that crazy guy than we are. They should be worried about it. Number 3, what kind of deal is it where they say, “okay we’re going to buy more agriculture from America in return we’re going to that” – by the way so they’re not giving anything -in return we’re going to keep stealing your stuff.” In about 5 or 8 years they’re going to dominate bio-tech, aerospace, they’re going to be able to listen in all of our military secrets and use those. They are building airplanes, our airplanes, that took us 20 years to innovate, these guys are coming up with these things in 2 years. They’re either that brilliant, which they’re not, or they’re stealing it from us. They’re using ZTE in places like that to do it. 

There needs to be balance. Right now it’s imbalanced and when you have an imbalance, the other place is going to take advantage of you. And sometimes you have wars because of these imbalances.  Right now it is a total imbalance. Chinese companies come to America and can do whatever they want. Whatever they want. American companies, some of them are not even allowed into China, and if they let you into China they make you partner with one of their companies until they steal your secrets. That has to be balanced. Until that is balanced, we are going to have this problem.
So China is taking advantage of the fact that for 20 years, American presidents before this one, made the decision that, “don’t worry about it. We’ll let them keep cheating. Because once they’re rich, they’re going to act more like us.”
Well it didn’t work out that way and now we finally realized it. And it’s almost too late. So I don’t want China to be an enemy. We are actually turning them into an enemy in some ways by allowing this imbalance to exist. They are taking advantage of that imbalance like any country in the world would. And until we get this thing balanced out again structurally, the threat of a conflict is actually going to grow, not diminish.