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Trump Offers Help to Chinese Company in Trade Dispute

2018-5-14

Tensions over trade between the United States and China have now involved telecommunications equipment and soybeans.

U.S. President Donald Trump surprised government officials on Sunday by offering to help a Chinese telecommunications company.

Trump wrote on Twitter that he was looking for a way to let the Chinese company ZTE Corp. “get back into business fast.” The tweet also said, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

In April, the U.S. Commerce Department blocked ZTE Corp. from buying U.S.-made telecommunications equipment. The goods include parts needed for wireless stations, optical fiber networks and smartphones.

The action was taken after accusations that the company misled U.S. officials about its efforts to stop the sale of goods to sanctioned countries. The U.S. parts, officials said, were being put into products being sold to Iran and North Korea.

The U.S.-made parts however represent a large percentage of the parts the company uses to make its products. As a result, the company said it would have to shut down operations at its factory in the southern city of Shenzhen. The Associated Press reports that ZTE has more than 70,000 employees.

On its English language website, ZTE stated that the U.S. Commerce Department’s “denial order” would “severely impact the survival and development” of the company.

America First policy

Trump has accused Chinese trade policy of costing American workers jobs during the 2016 presidential campaign and as president.

In March, the U.S. placed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China. The two sides have since exchanged threats to increase import taxes on a large number of goods.

Trump’s statements, however, appear to be an effort to ease tensions.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that China appreciates the U.S. position. Lu said the two sides were discussing the issue.

U.S. and Chinese trade representatives are to hold talks this week in Washington. Vice Premier Liu He will visit the U.S. and is expected to meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

U.S. farmers face unsettling trade dispute

In the U.S., the widening trade dispute threatens to hurt American farmers at a time when they have just planted this year’s crops.

The U.S. is a major exporter of soybean to China but some farmers are concerned about the trade situation between the sides.
The U.S. is a major exporter of soybean to China but some farmers are concerned about the trade situation between the sides.

China has not put in place tariffs as part of a response to the recent U.S. measures. There are concerns, however, that China already has stopped buying soybeans from U.S. farmers.

A Chinese tariff on crops like soybeans could hurt farmers like Scott Halpin of Illinois. He told VOA, “Soybeans make up just under half of our crop rotation.”

Phil Flynn is a market expert with Price Futures Group, a company that provides financial advice.

He is not too concerned about loses in the soybean market. He told VOA, “They [China] have a lot more to lose than we do.”

China imports about 63 percent of the world’s exported soybeans. “There’s not a lot of places that can replace American soybeans in the near term,” Flynn noted.

Halpin, however, would like to know that there is a buyer for his crop.

“If China is buying from another country, somebody else is going to be looking for our soybeans. It would just be nice to have some stability,” he said.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Mario Ritter adapted this story for VOA Learning English. The story is based on reporting from Kane Farabaugh of VOA and the AP. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

optical fiber –n. long, thin glass or plastic thread that carries light signals

sanctioned –adj. describing countries that have sanction measures placed on them

tariffs –n. taxes on imports or exports mean to protect some industries in a country

appreciate –v. to understand the value of something, to be grateful

rotation –n. a crop that is planted in turns to avoid weakening the soil

stability –n. something not easily changed

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