Monday, May 14, 2018

Not Only Russia

David Frum is psychic. Three days ago, he observed

Nine days earlier, PC Mag had found

The US government's crackdown on Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE is intensifying.

The Pentagon has banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones in retail stores on US military bases, citing security concerns, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department's personnel, information and mission," Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Journal. "In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department's exchanges to continue selling them."

Members of the military can still buy Huawei and ZTE phones elsewhere, if they so choose, but Eastburn warned them to "be mindful of the security risks," the report notes. Unnamed sources told the newspaper that the Pentagon is worried the devices will allow the Chinese government to track soldiers' locations.

The move comes after the US Commerce Department last month banned US companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years. Meanwhile, that same month, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved a measure that would eliminate a government subsidy for any US telecom carrier that buys from Huawei or ZTE; a second vote will make it official.

Best Buy in March reportedly cut ties with Huawei, following the lead of US carriers like AT&T and Verizon, which decided not to sell the company's Mate 10 Pro due to pressure from the US government.

The campaign against Huawei and ZTE dates back to 2012 when the House Intelligence Committee issued a report warning that the firms might be using their entrance into the U.S. market as a way to spy for the Chinese government – allegations Huawei and ZTE.

Someone forgot to give the President of the USA the memo- which Donald Trump probably wouldn't have read, anyway- for today we read

President Trump says he will help a China-based cellphone manufacturer save jobs after the Commerce Department said it sold U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea and then failed to live up to the terms of a settlement.

It would be difficult to find a more quintessential example of the kind of troubling trade practices that the president has long highlighted, which makes his sudden pivot in the case of ZTE all the more stunning.

ZTE, the world's fourth-largest maker of cellphones, was found in violation of U.S. rules against selling U.S.-originated technology to certain blacklisted countries. After reaching a more than $1 billion settlement with Commerce as reparation for its Iran and North Korea dealings, ZTE then violated the terms of the agreement by failing to fire some employees and reprimand others who were involved in the illicit technology transfers.

Among other things, Commerce imposed a seven-year ban on the company that prevented it from buying parts from U.S. manufacturers.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month called ZTE's behavior "egregious" and said it "cannot be ignored."

That president's tweet on Sunday appears to have undone all that. "President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast," Trump tweeted on Sunday. "Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"

It seems that the "America First" president really meant "America First, After Russia and Mainland China." However, perhaps that order needs to be reversed. From (h/to investigative reporter Scott Stedman) The Moscow Project (Steele dossier):

5. Commenting on the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election campaign in support of Trump, Source E said he understood that the Republican candidate and his team were relatively relaxed about this because it deflected media and the Democrats’ attention away from Trump’s business dealings in China and other emerging markets. Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.

Were there merely a blueprint for a Trump Tower Beijing, this would not be so serious. The considerable attention to the possibility that the President of  the United States of America is being blackmailed by Russia probably has acted as somewhat of a brake on the concessions he otherwise would have given the Kremlin. However, there has been little or no consideration of the possibility that mainland China might have the goods on him, also. That could prove even more damaging to national security.

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