How Trump’s U-turn on ZTE has exposed and weakened the power of US sanctions

Trump imposed heavy sanctions on Chinese manufacturing giant ZTE last week, and ZTE responded that this would pretty much put them out of business, so then Trump says he’s up for renegotiating sanctions, because it’s likely that it could put hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers out of a job. What’s with the U-turn into wanting to save Chinese jobs after imposing heavy sanctions, and what exactly are these sanctions anyway?

Well, the US is pretty much the world’s lone global superpower. The US dollar is used as the default currency of exchange in most major markets. US technology, both hardware and software, is used heavily by companies around the world. We also control most of the major electronic banking nodes used in large scale international commerce. And with the sanctions on ZTE, America was saying that the Chinese company could no longer use any American technology in its products. That includes Qualcomm chips, Google technology, Microsoft technology– none of it. So for one of the world’s largest manufacturers of smartphones, not being able to buy technology or software from America or that is American made is a huge fucking deal, because American computer technology is the standard. Sanctions can also include not being able to use American controlled financial nodes, making it impossible for companies or countries to make most international financial transactions. Our currency, our internet, our hardware and software– America controls the money and how it flows, and that’s what counts.

So Trump did two things here. He imposed sanctions on ZTE for dealing with Iran, but these sanctions were way over the top– to the point that it realistically could have caused this major manufacturer to shut down, affecting not only Chinese jobs, but jobs across Asia, Europe and North America. And now he’s being forced to walk them back at the behest of ZTE and the Chinese government. He wants to flaunt the incredible power that America does in fact wield over other countries, and he’s doing so in a way that’s reckless, and will end up causing damage to the US when other countries are tired up taking our shit. Because while we control the flow of money, we depend heavily on the entire interconnected network of global economics to make our cheap crap that we can get at crazy discounts with free two day shipping. And with threats of sanctions on our European allies who don’t fully get behind American policy, we may be severely overplaying our hand.

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