Congress abandons bid to reverse Trump deal with ZTE..

Elias Hubbard
July 23, 2018

US lawmakers who reached an agreement on a must-pass defense bill cut from the legislation a measure that would have made it harder for the president to undo sanctions slapped on China's ZTE Corp., a top Democrat in the Senate said on Friday.

Congressional aides say legislators are abandoning an effort to crack down on Chinese telecom giant ZTE, deferring to a White House deal to save the company despite accusations that it violated USA sanctions and sold sensitive technology to Iran and North Korea.

The House version of the defense bill is not as punitive on the company, requiring only that the USA government refrain from purchasing anything from ZTE.

As a reminder, back in May, the United States banned ZTE from working with USA companies.

The change was made as lawmakers sought to hammer out differences between the Senate and House versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes military spending but is generally used as a vehicle for a broad range of policy matters. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Democratic leader, said in a statement Friday.

But the Trump administration had ordered an end to the penalties as the president sought to prevent an undermining of trade talks with China, and the USA formally lifted the crippling ban last week.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said in a statement that he opposed stripping the provision out of the defense policy bill. Both chambers passed their versions of the defense bill with wide veto-proof margins.

The company quickly announced that it was halting operations, but the USA and China last month reached a deal that allows ZTE to stay in business in exchange for paying an additional US$1 billion in fines and agreeing to let U.S. regulators monitor its operations. The settlement also included a $1 billion penalty that ZTE paid to the U.S. Treasury in June.

The letter was signed by Sens.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called the change "bad news" in a tweet, lamenting the increased chances the Chinese "controlled" company stays in business.

The Commerce Department barred ZTE in April from importing American components for seven years after concluding that the company deceived US regulators after settling charges last year of sanctions violations.

In April 2018 the Commerce Department prohibited ZTE from purchasing U.S-.made technology after it determined it was not complying with the plea agreement made in March 2017 on the sanctions busting.

Additionally, ZTE, Huawei and other Chinese state-directed firms have been deemed national security threats by providing the capacity for spying and intellectual property theft, according to testimony to Congress from the intelligence community.

"Beyond frustrated that Republican leaders are caving to the Trump Administration's demands on ZTE".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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