White House seeks to block Congress from killing ZTE deal

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A bipartisan amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act that reinstitutes penalties against ZTE for violating USA sanctions against exporting to Iran and North Korea, and bans US government agencies from purchasing any of the company's devices or services.

The Senate adopted a measure Tuesday to block President Donald Trump's deal to lift sanctions from Chinese telecom company ZTE.

As part of the USA order, the Commerce Department also will select a monitor, known as a special compliance co-ordinator, within 30 days to report on compliance by ZTE and its affiliates worldwide for 10 years.

The ZTE settlement came days after Beijing reportedly offered to boost purchases of American goods by $70 billion in order to fight a trade imbalance with the United States, while US President Trump has demanded a $200 billion reduction in its trade deficit with China over two years.

The Senate was expected to pass its bill as soon as this week.

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An amendment sponsored by Sens.

The bipartisan anti-ZTE amendment was co-authored by Republican Tom Cotton, and Democrat Chris Van Hollen.

Then, if the ZTE rollback is still in, it will become a major challenge to Mr. Trump, who personally stepped in as a favor to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But under direction from Trump, the Commerce Department created a new deal to lift sanctions, including the payment of a US$1 billion fine, placing US$400 million in escrow in case of future transgressions, the firing of management figures and the installation of US-selected compliance officers. The Senate voted 91-4 late Monday to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, including an amendment that will keep restrictions on ZTE.

The White House didn't respond Monday evening to a request for comment on the Senate's pushback.

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Investors wiped about $3-billion off embattled Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp's market value as it resumed trade on Wednesday after agreeing to pay up to $1.4-billion in penalties to the US government.

"China is using its telecommunications companies as means to conduct espionage". Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The quick action to stop Trump from rolling back the ZTE penalties shows the seriousness of the issue, Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Senators are looking to rein in those tariffs in the defense bill, too.

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