Last weekend, a tweet from President Donald Trump surprised many when he called for the Commerce Department to repeal the U.S. export ban that it had placed on Chinese phone and network equipment manufacturer ZTE. Without access to U.S. software, hardware and components, ZTE has had to basically shut its doors. Despite many comments he made during the presidential campaign that called out China for stealing U.S. jobs, Trump showed unusual concern for those in China losing their jobs at ZTE ("Too many jobs in China lost," the president wrote in the tweet).
After paying a huge fine, the company was told by the Commerce Department to withhold bonuses and write reprimands to those involved. The company failed to do this in a timely fashion, leading the U.S. to implement the export ban.Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously passed an amendment to a bill that prevents the Commerce Department from making any changes to the sanctions that it imposed on ZTE last month, including the U.S. export ban which will expire in March 2025. ZTE had violated U.S. sanctions by selling goods and services to Iran.
Back in 2012, the House Intelligence Committee suggested that ZTE and fellow Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei both be banned from the U.S. The report called both companies a threat to the national security of the U.S. due to their ties with the Chinese government. Earlier this year, President Trump used national security as his reason to block Broadcom's attempted purchase of Qualcomm. The contradiction has baffled many technology analysts.