The deal between ZTE and the White House might not be enough to save Chinese telecommunications giant, which has been banned from doing business with American suppliers for a few months.
Bipartisan support for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is building in Congress. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are discussing a provision that’ll stop American suppliers and the U.S. government from interacting with ZTE as well as Huawei.
The NDAA is a federal law passed every year that lays out the U.S. Department of Defense’s budget. It’s expected that the Senate will vote this week.
Assuming the Senate passes the bill, it’ll be sent over for the House to examine the additional provision. The near-complete bill could then lead to a showdown with President Donald Trump. He’s responsible for signing the final version that decides the country’s defense policy moving forward.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been adamant about putting ZTE back in business.
Following its violation of previous sanctions, ZTE was slapped with the ban by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Trump then stepped in to negotiate with the Chinese government. To his administration, the matter has been about trade. Everyone else, meanwhile, sees ZTE as a threat to national security.
Here’s what Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said about the provision:
“ZTE has repeatedly violated U.S. law and represents a threat to our national security. Congress cannot and will not allow the Administration to let ZTE off the hook in the interest of jobs.
Cotton went on to add the provision will protect private information from getting the Chinese government’s hands. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined him in saying the Trump administration is “dead wrong” to let up on ZTE.
ZTE, in addition to others based in China, has been scrutinized for possible espionage. There’s a growing concern among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that ZTE is spying on Americans through mobile devices and networks. These allegations have been around for many years, but now Congress is serious about protecting American specific companies.