Trump's ZTE deal challenged by Senate
Death penalty suggested or naughty, naughty Chinese telco-kit-maker
United States senators have mobilised against president Trump's plan to allow ZTE to resume dealings with American companies.
Left out of that equation, however, is the position of US lawmakers, and they remain set against ZTE being let back in the tent.
A bipartisan group of US senators has put a renewed ban on both ZTE and Huawei into an amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
The amendment will be voted on in the Senate this week, and if it passes, will need to be reconciled with the House version of the bill that passed in May.
One of the bill's sponsors, Democrat Chuck Schumer, was already on the record as supporting continued sanctions against ZTE. When the White House cut a deal with the company last week (imposing a US$1.4 billion fine and a board restructure), Schumer put out a statement calling on Congress to reverse it, saying “There is absolutely no good reason that ZTE should get a second chance, and this decision marks a 180 degree turn away from the president’s promise to be tough on China.”
The bipartisan anti-ZTE amendment was co-authored by Republican Tom Cotton, and Democrat Chris Van Hollen.
Cotton called ZTE a “repeat bad actor that should be put out of business”, adding: “I and obviously every other senator believes the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for their behaviour”.
Politico noted that the amendment spreads a wide net, with the outlet saying the language used “prohibits the federal government from doing business with ZTE or Huawei or other Chinese telecom companies”.
ZTE was penalised by US authorities for ignoring a 2017 wrist-slap for dealing with Iran and North Korea. The wider bans follow US intelligence and defence warnings that China's telco kit-makers, which are growing fast and challenging US competitors, are a threat to US national security. ®