Marco Rubio Says Chinese Companies Like ZTE Use Their Devices To Spy On Americans

Jacquelyn MartinAP Images

Republican Senator Marco Rubio is emerging as one of the loudest critics of President Donald Trump’s policies.

On Friday, despite opposition from lawmakers, Trump announced a deal to save Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE. He said that he will allow the company to “reopen with high-level security guarantees, change of management and board.” As per the agreement, the Chinese phone maker will pay a $1.3 billion fine and purchase parts from the U.S.

Senator Rubio, however, says this is a bad idea. In an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, on Sunday, the Florida senator said that Congress would take steps to prevent ZTE from doing business in the United States.

“There is a growing commitment in Congress to do something about what China is trying to do to the United States and that one of the things that Congress will do is not allow Chinese telecom companies to operate in the United States,” he said.

Rubio has been a leader of the congressional charge against President Trump’s plans to ease the restrictions on ZTE that were imposed after it broke U.S. sanctions by selling products to Iran and North Korea.

Last week, Rubio took to Twitter to say that China “is winning the negotiations.” He used the hashtag “#Losing.” He’s warned that releasing restrictions on the Chinese company, which is partly owned by the government, could put the American national security and intellectual property at risk.

Rubio pointed out that he is opposing the move because Chinese telephones are used for espionage.

“Whether it’s routers or anything else, they embed stuff in there that could be used to spy against us, not just for national security,” Rubio explained.

Senator Rubio did not go into specifics about what kind of measure Congress might pursue to block Trump’s policy on ZTE. According to a report by the Washington Times, the annual defense authorization bills being considered in Congress already contain a prohibition on the federal government using Huawei and ZTE products. Rubio has also proposed legislation that would do the same. Congress will look at a sales ban of intellectual property and “national security sensitive technology” to China, he said.

Rubio said that there would be ample support among lawmakers.

“I believe it’ll have a supermajority,” Rubio said. “I think most members of Congress have come to understand the threat China poses.”

Rubio On Kim Jong Un

Rubio also recently commented on the North Korea summit. He implied that the summit is a waste of time because Kim Jong Un will never agree to denuclearization. He said that the North Korean leader is emotionally attached to his nuclear weapons.