The last threat to ZTE’s future in the US has now finally been removed. Republican senators have agreed to back off from demanding that the US government impose the initial sanctions that they have put on the Chinese company. This is heeding the earlier call of US President Donald Trump to help out the electronics maker as a step towards improving economic relations with China and their president Xi Jinping. They will now be able to resume their relationships with US companies once the ban has been officially lifted.
If you’re not familiar with the situation, ZTE received sanctions from the US government after it was proven that they were selling goods to Iran and North Korea which is in violation of the economic sanctions placed on the two countries. The Commerce Department therefore punished the Chinese company by forbidding them from doing business with US companies. This was a big blow to them since a lot of the parts of their devices are sourced from companies within the US. When they had to resort to closing down some of their offices and businesses, Trump instructed his government to help ZTE out and lift the penalties imposed.
ZTE managed to meet some terms of the agreement, including replacing their senior management and signing an escrow agreement, depositing $400 million as a fine. However, the US Senate voted to reimpose the sanctions when they passed a defense policy bill last month. But it looks like they changed their minds once again, at least the Republican senators in particular. They have agreed to agree to the language that the House included to revise some parts of the bill. In it, they rephrased it to say that US government agencies and contractors are still barred from doing business with ZTE but the Chines company will be allowed to do business with private US firms.
Not all US politicians are happy with this latest development. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said that this makes the Chinese government “the big winners” and that on the losing end are the American workers and the country’s national security. Senator Marc Rubio meanwhile said that the Republican senators compromised on this because of the bolstering of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or CFIUS. He believes it is a bad trade-off as the chances of a China controlled telecom on US soil has just gone up.
ZTE will probably not be concerned about the bickering between Republican and Democrat senators as this latest decision will help them recover from the $3 billion that they have already lost because of the sanctions on them. The final version of the defense bill will be voted on by the House and Senate in the coming days.
VIA: Washington Post