Senators target Chinese telecom firm ZTE: Comply with U.S. law or face another ban

September 18, 2018

Republican and Democratic senatorsare proposing that the controversial Chinese tech giant ZTE must be regularly certified that it is operating in full compliance with relevant U.S. export controls and sanctions laws -- or face another ban.

The bill, the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, Susan Collins, Maine Republican, Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, and James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican.

“ZTE has a history of violating U.S. sanctions and misleading the U.S. government,” Mr. Warner, the Senate Intelligence committee’s top Democrat said in a statement.

In April, as the U.S. and China began a tit-for-tat trade war, Washington blocked ZTE from buying U.S. parts after Washington learned the firm had violated trade bans with Iran and North Korea.

China’s second-largest telecoms manufacturer, ZTE depends on U.S.-made components for the production of mobile phones and other products.

The ban caused ZTE to halt operations and forced Chinese President Xi Jinping to ask President Trump to reconsider the punishment, which Washington did in July.

The firm then signed an agreement with the Commerce Department that it would comply with relevant U.S. laws, in addition to paying a $400 million security deposit.

The ZERO Act takes issue with ZTE’s forthrightness following U.S. laws, in addition to the Commerce Department’s ability to keep the company in compliance.

“ZTE has violated American sanctions on Iran and North Korea and lied about its efforts to rectify the issue,” Ms. Collins said in a statement. “The company’s disregard for U.S. laws undermines our national security interests and cannot be tolerated.”

“Our bipartisan bill,” the Maine Republican added, “would require the Department of Commerce to monitor ZTE and effectively put ZTE out of business if they are found to be noncompliant, ensuring the safety of our economy and national security.”

Mr. Rubio added, “with China’s communist government posing the greatest, long-term threat to the United States, we must continue to confront ZTE’s real risks to our economy and national security. While it was a mistake to reach a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill will ensure ZTE is finally put out of business if it does not hold up its end of the bargain.”

Update hourly