‘We’re different now,’ says ZTE after Iran book

‘We’re different now,’ says ZTE after Iran book

ZTE HQ Shenzhen.jpg
ZTE HQ in Shenzhen.

ZTE’s new management, put into place after the US discovered it was smuggling banned kit to Iran, means it is a different company now.

The Chinese equipment vendor was responding to a request from Capacity following a news story and a podcast about a new book written by the former general counsel of ZTE USA.

In the book, published on 5 April, Dallas lawyer Ashley Yablon says that ZTE showed him a plan to “get around US export laws”. Staff told him that “the law is only a suggestion”, he writes in the book, Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country.

ZTE told Capacity in response to a request for comment about the book: “Starting 2018 when ZTE’s new management team set the goal of making ZTE a global leader in compliance, the company has made compliance the cornerstone of its strategic development and operations, and is proud of the significant improvement to its company’s compliance program and culture.”

Former CEO Shi Lirong, whose signature was on a document approving ZTE’s plan to evade US sanctions, was replaced in 2016 by Zhao Xianming, who had been CTO. But Zhao himself was replaced in 2018 as part of the settlement with the US, under which ZTE paid a fine of US$1.2 billion.

The CEO since 2018 has been Xu Ziyang, former CTO of ZTE Europe and America and former CEO of ZTE Services Germany.

Meanwhile Capacity also asked ZTE about allegations by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the US that it conspired to commit visa fraud, by bringing researchers into the US on an academic visa and then diverting them from a university to a ZTE office.

A professor at Georgia Tech and a former ZTE research director have appeared in court in the US. The company told Capacity that “the hearing focused on allegations against a former employee of ZTE, who has not been with the company for several years. The company has not been charged regarding the allegations.”

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