China appealed the Commerce Department’s recent ban on ZTE that saw Washington prevent the company from purchasing or licensing any kind of American technologies, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the development. China’s officials met with a number of U.S. envoys in Beijing earlier this week to discuss the rising trade-related tensions between the two countries, which is when they asked Washington to amend what they perceive is an unfair sanction that threatens the very existence of ZTE. While publicly traded, ZTE is majorly owned by the People’s Republic of China.
ZTE itself already implied it’s planning legal action against the move that’s preventing it from purchasing Qualcomm’s chips and licensing Google’s Android operating system, both crucial components of its smartphone formula. While not a major mobile player globally, ZTE was the fourth-largest handset vendor in the United States last year, with nearly every tenth device sold in the country being made by the firm, according to numerous industry trackers. Chinese officials reportedly pleaded with their U.S. colleagues on behalf of ZTE even as Washington remains adamant the sanction isn’t a result of the recent tensions between the two countries.
Last year, ZTE pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate U.S. trade sanctions imposed on Iran, having agreed to an $892 million fine and other concessions, including firing four senior executives and disciplining 35 others by withholding their bonuses or issuing them with reprimands. Several weeks back, the Commerce Department learned that the 35 people in question haven’t faced any consequences for their involvement in the Iran ordeal, having consequently opted to ban ZTE from purchasing American goods it heavily relies on. The Chinese firm argued the reason for the sanction was discovered internally and self-reported to Washington for the purpose of maintaining transparency, having also noted that it’s now committing millions of dollars to educating its employees about import policies and making sure such transgressions never happen again, thus deeming the latest sanction unfair.