US President Donald Trump has said Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker ZTE Corp. will be allowed to remain in business once it pays a $1.3 billion fine as well as change its management and board and providing “high-level security guarantees.”
Trump confirmed through a tweet that a deal has been outlined by his administration however, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over his decision to soften an earlier U.S. action against ZTE over what his Commerce secretary called “egregious” violations of sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
Trump didn’t let that go and in a tweet took a jab at Democrats saying that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former President Barack Obama “let phone company ZTE flourish with no security checks.”
As a part of the deal under which ZTE will be allowed to resume operations, the company will be required to hire American compliance officers to monitor its operations, sources have said. Once ZTE complies, the Commerce Department will lift an order under which the company had been cut off from U.S. suppliers including Qualcomm Inc., effectively shutting down its business.
“Yes they have a deal in mind. It is a great deal … for #ZTE & China,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, tweeted on Friday. Schumer said that “both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks.”
The Senate on Thursday released a defense policy bill containing a provision requiring Trump, before making any ZTE deal, to certify with Congress that ZTE hasn’t violated U.S. law for the past year and is cooperating with U.S. investigations.
It’s unclear if Congress will be able to muster veto-proof majorities needed to block the president on ZTE, however. People briefed on the meeting said lawmakers were told to give the administration room to negotiate the matter and asked them to tone down public criticism of the deal.