President Trump Weighs In On U.S. Commerce Department Dispute With China Over ZTE Phones

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty

President Trump’s attempt to bring jobs back to China with his agreement with Chinese President Xi to give ZTE another chance has hit a roadblock.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were not too thrilled to hear that the Trump administration wanted to save ZTE. In the act of rare bipartisanship, Republican, and Democratic Senators amended the National Defense Authorization Act. Voting overwhelmingly (85-10), they introduced new language that will reinstate sanctions against the tech giant that Trump is currently trying to do away with.

Patiently waits for Trump’s angry tweets.

The move by the Senate looks to put a halt on the agreement between the US and China that would have removed those trade sanctions if ZTE paid a $1 billion fine and added a US-picked compliance department. ZTE’s problems began when the company exported telecoms equipment to Iran and North Korea. In response to the companies ill-advised action, the US Department of Commerce slapped a seven-year ban on American companies doing business on the phone maker. The ban could mean the demise of ZTE due to the fact it heavily relies on Amercian chipmakers for phone parts. Growing concerns about  ZTE (and Huawei) devices being used for cyber attacks on the US, eavesdropping on US citizens and stealing data also play a significant role for ZTE’s current situation with the US.

The Senate’s new provisions state the government may not buy any ZTE- or Huawei-branded equipment. The Trump Administration also must certify that ZTE or any other Chinese telecom companies are cooperating with authorities and have not broken any US laws for a year.

Now even though the Senate has come to an agreement that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk. The House has also passed a version of the bill that does not include the same provisions. So both the House and Senate have to come together to produce a final copy. There is also the matter of the President signing the bill, and the White House has already stated they will squash the bill before it becomes law.

Trump will meet with the Republicans who helped draw up the new provision on Wednesday. We shall see if he manages to somehow sway them into siding with him on the matter. Honestly, we wouldn’t be surprised based on their behavior since he became President.

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty

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