Congress is working to prevent a deal the Trump administration reached Friday with ZTE from coming to fruition due to espionage allegations by the intelligence community, which claims it could sell trackable phones in the US that could be used to steal intellectual property, NBC News reported.
Under the agreement, ZTE will oust its management team, hire American compliance officers and pay a fine - on top of Dollars 1 billion it's already paid for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of United States sanctions.
"We urge you not to compromise lawful USA enforcement actions against serial and premeditated violators of USA law, such as ZTE", numerous lawmakers, including Sen.
If ZTE agrees to the deal, the Commerce Department would roll back restrictions it imposed in April that prohibited US companies from selling parts to the Chinese firm.
News of the ZTE agreement came almost a week after the USA and China suspended plans to impose tariffs on as much as $200 billion of each other's goods, putting them on the brink of a trade war.
The reported deal involving China's second-largest telecommunications equipment maker ran into immediate resistance in Congress, where Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans accused him of bending to pressure from Beijing to ease up on a company that USA intelligence officials have suggested poses a significant risk to US national security.
"We'll let you know when we have an announcement on that front", spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
The Senate Banking Committee in a 32-2 vote Tuesday advanced legislation that limited the president's ability to ease sanctions on Chinese telecom companies, requiring the administration first prove to Congress that the company is complying with US law.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has likewise criticized the Chinese company as a security hazard.
In a statement, Schiff accused Trump of "ignoring warnings from our intelligence community that ZTE poses a national security risk because he is desperate for a deal with China".
Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Twitter Friday that the president's proposed compromise benefits China at the expense of USA companies. "If President Trump won't put our security before Chinese jobs, Congress will act on a bipartisan basis to stop him". The Trump administration has pushed China to help cut the $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S, with Beijing so far making only vague commitments to buy more US goods, including farm products and energy. However, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress believe that this deal could potentially compromise national security.
Trump told Fox News on Thursday that he personally negotiated the $1.3 billion fine with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call.
After the deal today was reported on, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response, "If the administration goes through with this reported deal, President Trump would be helping make China great again".
Trump on Tuesday floated a plan to fine ZTE up to $1.3 billion and shake up its management as his administration considered rolling back more severe penalties that have crippled the company.
After further negotiations, they settled at a United States dollars 1.3 billion fine, Trump said. In doing so, the two nations pulled back from the brink of a trade war over Chinese demands that USA companies hand over some of their technology as the price of doing business in China.