Republican Senator John Kennedy stated on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s plans to possibly save Chinese company ZTE from economic sanctions are a “bargaining chip” that can be used to bring China back to the table on a trade deal.
During an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Kennedy said that Trump is working on a “larger trade deal with China,” and that his announcement on ZTE plays into that strategy.
“I think this is part of a chess game,” Kennedy said. “Now I haven’t heard the president say this, but he’s implied it. I think he’s trying to negotiate a larger trade deal with China, and this is part of it.”
“I think we really hurt ZTE [with the tariffs],” Kennedy continued. “My guess is [Chinese President] Xi Jinping has asked for a little relief and the president is doing a little negotiating, trying to get us a better trade deal.”
In his Sunday tweet, Trump said that he was trying to find a way to get ZTE “back into business, fast,” after the company was severely hurt by a U.S. decision to disallow companies from doing business with the Chinese telecom giant.
The Commerce Department forbids U.S. companies from doing business with ZTE, accusing the company of violating a deal to pay a $1.2 billion fine for evading sanctions.
In recent months, Washington and Beijing have been on the verge of a global trade war, as both countries have gone back and forth with threats of tariff announcements as the economic tensions were increasing.
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted in March.