The United States Senate is set to vote on an anti-ZTE bill later today, shortly after the government provided the Chinese company with a lifeline deal which allowed it to resume normal operations in spite of its repeated violations of international trade sanctions and settlements pertaining to the thereof. The top Congress house will be debating the provision as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with the ZTE-related amendment already being approved as part of the draft last month, in spite of President Trump’s then-ongoing efforts to mend U.S. relations with the Shenzhen-based firm.
The President’s decision to lend a helping hand to ZTE saw bipartisan opposition from stateside legislators, though most industry watchers believe Capitol Hill has little options to reverse the new settlement. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle previously argued ZTE poses a national security risk and the Commerce Department-issued denial order preventing it from buying and licensing American technologies indirectly addresses that issue, whereas allowing it to continue operating in the country and collaborating with U.S. firms achieves the opposite effect. As part of the new settlement, ZTE agreed to import $70 billion worth of additional goods from the U.S. and pay another $1 billion fine, in addition to giving in to a broad range of other concessions.
The new NDAA draft itself is standard practice on Capitol Hill, with one such bill being passed on an annual basis. Pentagon recently banned all sales of ZTE and Huawei-made devices from the vicinity of its military bases, with stateside lawmakers now considering going a step further and reinstating the Commerce Department’s seven-year denial order which would likely bankrupt the company in the near term. President Trump would be able to veto the bill less it’s delivered with a supermajority vote, an unlikely scenario that would require two-thirds of Congress to agree on a highly debated subject of national security and telecommunications. ZTE repeatedly denied any allegations of posing a security threat to any nations. While publicly traded, the phone and telecom equipment manufacturer is majority-owned by China itself.