Bipartisan Group of Senators Move to Hold Chinese Telecom Firm ZTE Accountable in “Significant, Painful” Way

September 18, 2018 by TWN Staff

ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act addresses safety of US economy, national security

Following a controversial deal by the Trump Administration that lifted a ban on the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE for seven years, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would force the Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm to comply with the probationary conditions of that deal. The ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act would reinstate the ban, effectively putting the telecommunications giant out of business, if the Commerce Secretary cannot regularly certify ZTE’s full compliance with the deal and with relevant U.S. export controls and sanctions laws.

In introducing the bill, the senators cited the safety of the economy and national security. ZTE previously evaded sanctions on Iran and North Korea and attempted to mislead American investigators.

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), a former technology executive and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has long expressed concern that ZTE poses a significant threat to the national security of the country. He previously wrote to the Administration urging President Trump to re-consider a deal with the China-based company.

“ZTE has a history of violating U.S. sanctions and misleading the U.S. government. Unfortunately this Administration has shown that it cannot be trusted to defend American interests and punish companies like ZTE that pose a threat to our security. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that if ZTE once again violates trade restrictions or its agreement with the U.S. it will be held accountable in a significant, painful way,” said Warner.

“With China’s communist government posing the greatest, long-term threat to the United States, we must continue to confront ZTE’s real risks to our economy and national security,” said Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). “While it was a mistake to reach a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill will ensure ZTE is finally put out of business if it does not hold up its end of the bargain.”

“ZTE has repeatedly misled federal investigators and violated U.S. laws, and their behavior represents a fundamental threat to our national security,” added Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). “At the bare minimum, Congress must act to ensure that this giant telecommunications company is not able to violate the current agreement with the Department of Commerce or our laws. This bipartisan legislation will hold ZTE’s feet to the fire and should be considered without delay.”

In addition to Senator Warner, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), James Lankford (R-OK) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined Senators Rubio and Van Hollen to introduce the legislation.

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