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US Senate goes against Trump, voting in favour of reinstating ZTE ban

Last month, smartphone manufacturer accepted Donald Trump’s get out of jail free card, when the US president removed the trading ban imposed on the company as a personal favour to Chinese president Xi Jinping. Unfortunately for Trump, many in the US still oppose the decision with the Senate voting in favour of reinstating the ban.

ZTE found itself in hot water back in April, after the Chinese handset maker was found guilty of breaching sanctions preventing hardware sales to Iran and North Korea. The United States quickly terminated its trade deals with the manufacturer, preventing ZTE from accessing necessary components such as American-made Qualcomm processors for seven years.

This essentially destroyed the company, as ZTE suspended all major operations and prayed for a miracle to pull the manufacturer out of an early grave. Under the guise of saving jobs in the US, Trump struck a personal deal with president Xi, ultimately reversing the ban in favour of a $1.3bn fine and promises that the firm would once again change up its management, booting out the original guilty parties.

Many across the US still see ZTE as a threat to national security, deeming president Trump’s latest decision as foolish. Sharing a common goal, Democrats and Republicans have formed a bi-partisan group in order to push legislation that would reinstate the ban once again.

“We’re heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either,” reads a joint statement between Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Tom Cotton (R-AR). “It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference.”

While the new legislation, included as a part of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, passed the Senate voted 85 to 10, it still has yet to clear a conference with the House and then dodge President Trump’s right to veto the move. If this passes, fellow Chinese smartphone maker Huawei will also be prevented from using US-made equipment within its devices.

Trump must be feeling the pressure as a veto-proof opposition has formed against him in the Senate, but this hasn’t stopped the president from doing what he wants in the past. Given his advocacy for repealing the ZTE ban, it’s likely that he will go ahead with plans regardless, although this remains to be seen.

Depending on how far this new legislation gets, it is unclear if the ZTE ban will return, whether the new deal will be weakened or if Trump will continue as if nothing had happened. Government officials are hoping to at least shape something that ensures national security within the US.

KitGuru Says: Given Trump’s current popularity within his party, he could really do without losing more favour from the Republicans. Still, he isn’t often the type to be deterred once he has set his sights. Do you think that ZTE should be banned from the US?

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