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Donald Trump's ZTE deal poised for Senate rollback

13 June 2018

He stressed that lawmakers must "remain clear-eyed and unified on the threat China poses to USA interests and national security", even if the president wasn't.

After it was exposed that ZTE violated US trade embargoes and directly lied to officials about the conduct, the Commerce Department banned USA exports to the company as punishment. If it passes, Trump would be forced to sign the law himself, as he would be unable to separate the popular defense bill from the ZTE sanctions.

The ban, which has prevented ZTE from buying the US components it relies on to make smartphones and other devices, will not be lifted until ZTE pays a fine and places $400 million more in an escrow account in a USA -approved bank. "Given their repeated violations of USA law, we can not trust them to respect USA national security, and so it's vital we hold them accountable and pass this amendment".

Sen. Cotton explained on Twitter that ZTE has extensive ties with the Chinese Communist Party and a record of doing business with North Korean and Iran. "Their products and services are used for espionage and intellectual property theft", said Sen.

Clouding the outlook is the challenge by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to reverse the Trump administration deal, by using an amendment in the annual defence bill.

The Shenzhen-based company appointed Shen Nan to lead the team, with two assistants, according to an internal memo seen by the South China Morning Post.

But a bipartisan group on Capitol Hill was upset from the moment that the president first got involved.

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Despite bipartisan support for the measure, Republicans are divided over whether it is wise to cross the president on this matter - and it is not clear that the effort to stymie Trump's deal will make it to the final version of the defense bill.

The move enraged Republicans and Democrats who said ZTE not only worked with Iran and North Korea in violation of US sanctions, but is a threat to national security, offering Chinese intelligence operatives a way to spy on the USA through ZTE products.

The ZTE provision was included as part of a non-controversial "manager's package" of changes, which is likely to be easily approved.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced the amendment last week.

Since the language is tucked into a larger defense bill, Trump would have no choice but to pass it.

"We're just continuing the conversation", said Sen.

The amendment will appear in the 2019 National Defence Authorisation Act, which is expected to go to the Senate for a vote this week. "I want to keep the conversation going".

Donald Trump's ZTE deal poised for Senate rollback