Despite US President Donald Trump and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ best efforts to save ZTE from a seven-year ban on using American goods, the US Senate passed the National Defence Authorization Act yesterday, which includes a provision to reinstate the ban on the Chinese phone manufacturer.
Photo: Miquel Benitez (Gizmodo)
While it’s difficult to say exactly how the vote would have gone had the ban been the topic of its own legislation, with senators including Republicans Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren all pushing to reinstate the ban, it’s clear this response was a bipartisan reaction to Trump’s latest round of wheeling and dealing in China.
For ZTE, the fourth-largest smartphone maker in the US once again finds itself in a difficult position.
After the original ban was first announced back in April following the US intelligence community’s belief that ZTE may be using its devices to spy on Americans, ZTE was forced to cease all major operating activities while the company explored its options. Without access to American-made components such as Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm, modems from Intel, and possibly even Android itself, ZTE’s entire supply chain would need to be reworked.
However, it seems ZTE’s wild ride isn’t over yet, as Politico reports that Trump has scheduled a meeting with Republican leaders later this week to discuss ZTE.
Alternatively, it’s possible that the looming reinstated ban could be modified or adjusted when the National Defence Authorization Act gets sent to the House, or Trump could veto the bill altogether. However, with the Senate having voted 85-10 in favour of the NDAA yesterday, there’s a good chance Congress would have the two-thirds majority needed to overrule a presidential veto.
Either way, it seems the battle for ZTE and Trump’s strange quest to save Chinese jobs isn’t over yet.