Tagged: China

The ban on ZTE is a pawn in the bigger US-China trade war

Just as promised, the Trump administration is planning to reverse the ban on ZTE that forced the Chinese smartphone maker to announce a shutdown of its mobile operations.

It’s not a full pardon, however, as the US government did find ZTE in violation of a previous settlement. But by allowing ZTE to return to business as usual, the US is putting the trade war with China on hold. In return, the Chinese government agreed to cut auto tariffs.

A similar move on imported US agricultural goods may follow, and China may end up buying more American farm goods in the future, two sources revealed to Reuters .

There’s a “handshake deal” on ZTE between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The US would drop the ban in exchange for the purchase of more US farm products, the report notes. China might also lift tariffs on agriculture goods, which it put up in response to US steel duties.

China will reduce auto import tariffs from 25% to 15% for most vehicles starting July 1st. Auto parts tariffs would drop from 10% to 6%, Reuters notes.

However, ZTE will still have to face “harsh” punishment that will include changes of management and board, and possibly a fine. That must be great news for ZTE, which would be allowed to use hardware and software from US companies including Qualcomm and Google. Under the terms of the seven-year ban, ZTE would have been unable to import Snapdragon chips or license Android.

ZTE has been a key factor in negotiations, as the ban exposed China’s heavy reliance on crucial tech imports from the US.

The final deal is likely to be finalized before or during U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s planned trip to Beijing next week.

Not everybody is happy about the outcome, and Republican Senator Marco Rubio is one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s decision to save ZTE.

https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/998864161122717696

“If this is true, then administration has surrendered to #China on #ZTE,” Rubio said on Twitter, liking to a The Wall Street Journal. Making changes to their board and a fine won’t stop them from spying and stealing from us. But this is too important to be over. We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action.”

China inches closer to Moon exploration with launch of new satellite

China really, really, really wants to explore the Moon — more specifically, the dark side of the Moon. The country has been steadily moving towards its ultimate goal of Moon exploration for a long while now, and it just launched a shiny new satellite that lays at least part of the foundation to achieve it.

The new satellite, called Queqiao (that means “Magpie Bridge,” according to Chinese news agency Xinhua), will act as a relay to link communications between the country’s science team on Earth and its planned Chang’e 4 lunar probe which is planned for the not-so-distant future.

The early-morning launch of the satellite was facilitated by a Long March-4C rocket which departed from the country’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The satellite successfully entered a transfer orbit to bring it to the Moon and according to China’s National Space Administration, the spacecraft unfolded its solar panels and communications antennas without issue.

“The launch is a key step for China to realize its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the Moon,” Zhang Lihua, manager of the satellite mission said, according to Xinhua. China’s Moon exploration ambitions have been building rapidly in recent years, and as companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin begin to commercialize spaceflight, the country’s aim to leave its mark on the Moon seems to be designed to bring its space science programs into the international spotlight.

The current timeline of the Chang’e 4 mission pins the launch of the lander and a robotic rover for later this year, with the eventual Moon landing happening nearer to the end of 2018. The country obviously has a bit of work to do before it can move forward, however, and its next order of business will be ensuring that the newly-launched relay satellite is correctly positioned and oriented to perform its communications-ferrying duties.

Once it arrives on the Moon, the Chang’e 4 hardware will study the chemical makeup of the material on the lunar surface as well as taking measurements of temperature and observing solar radiation and cosmic rays. The mission is currently planned to last roughly one full year, though if the hardware remains in working order it’s certainly possible that it will continue to be used past its planned mission end date.