The Slatest

Trump Explains That Lifting Sanctions on Huge Chinese Company Is OK Because It’s Just a Personal Favor for China’s President

Xi and Trump stand in front of colorful flowers as Xi points and Trump smiles.
Chinese president Xi Jinping and Donald Trump in Beijing on Nov. 9.
Thomas Peter/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump confused some members of his own administration, not to mention the general public, by tweeting on Sunday about his concern for the employees of a large Chinese telecom company that had been sanctioned by the U.S. for doing business with Iran:

Trump, of course, campaigned on the premise that America is too soft on Chinese companies that undermine international norms; just last week, he announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal so that it could reimpose sanctions on companies that do business with the Tehran regime.

POTUS attempted to explain himself further on Monday:

The first claim in Trump’s statement—that ZTE buys parts from American companies—is true.

The second—that his concern about the sanctions on ZTE is related to wider trade talks with China—contradicts what his own commerce secretary said earlier Monday.

The third—which implies that smoothing out the personal vibes between Trump and a foreign leader is a valid goal of U.S. foreign and economic policy—is just weird, particularly given how often Trump has complained in the past about China’s leaders browbeating America’s into bad deals!