Senate Set to Block White House on Reviving Trade Deal with ZTE

The Beijing research and development center of ZTE Corp. shown last week

The Beijing research and development center of ZTE Corp. shown last week

Republicans and Democrats expressed national security concerns about ZTE after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who had admitted to a conspiracy to evade USA sanctions by selling sensitive equipment to Iran and North Korea.

Since the Chinese vendor heavily relies on US-made Qualcomm chips for its equipment, the ban dealt a huge blow to ZTE's production line, and the vendor openly admitted it risked going under. The bill passed with 85 votes in favor and 10 against.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of the measure, and the two chambers must now hash out a compromise.

The new policy would keep financial penalties on ZTE for violating US sanctions in 2017, and would ban government agencies from buying their products.

"It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference", the statement added.

The Senate approved a defense package with a provision that would reverse the ZTE agreement.

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Earlier this month, the U.S government reached an agreement with ZTE which would allow the firm to resume business. Too many jobs in China lost. So if he vetoes the defense spending bill because of a ZTE provision, that move could be seen as prioritizing a personal favor to the Chinese government above national defense - and above any actual conviction about using sanctions to impose U.S. will around the world.

The U.S. Senate bill also calls for both sides to expand cooperation in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and urges the secretary of defense to consider supporting a visit by an American hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual "Pacific Partnership" mission to improve disaster response planning and preparedness.

Cornyn told reporters that government procurement "is much more sensitive when it comes to national security".

The ban is now prohibiting ZTE to purchase components from USA manufacturers, including chipsets from San Diego-based Qualcomm.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters had said the meeting would focus on the "problematic" amendment to the defense bill, but the gathering ended up largely addressing an ongoing furor about the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the USA border.

Trump plans to host Republican members of Congress Wednesday to discuss a path forward on ZTE and other issues. The bill will now need to be reconciled with a House version - where the amendment could be stripped out - voted through both the House and the Senate, and signed into law by Trump.

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