ZTE faces closure again after senators rebel against Trump

13 June 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


President Donald Trump’s deal with Chinese vendor ZTE could be blocked by his Republican allies in the US Senate – as well as their Democrat opponents.

Senators from both parties have passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to put the denial order back into operation, after it was withdrawn last week

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) issued its denial order against ZTE, banning it from using any US-made hardware or software in the equipment it sells around the world. The DoC found in 2016 that ZTE was smuggling equipment to Iran, in contravention of a US embargo.

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, told reporters: “ZTE said they couldn’t remain in business, or at least not remain anything other than a cell phone hand-held business, if the denial order from March was in effect. And this would essential put the denial order back into effect.”

The amendment would reinstate the denial order, effectively putting ZTE out of business.

Chuck Schumer, who leads the Democrats in the Senate, said: “The fact that a bipartisan group of senators came together this quickly is a testament to how bad the Trump administration’s ZTE deal is and how we will not shy away from holding the president’s feet to the fire when it comes to keeping his promise to be tough on China.”

The way the Senate has passed this amendment means that – if the bill is then passed by the House of Representatives – Trump has no option but to accept it in full, including the amendment, or veto it all.