US President Donald Trump and a group of Republicans from the Senate and House of Representatives met at the White House on Wednesday to discuss their disagreement over how to penalize Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp., Reuters reports.
The Trump administration moved to lift a ban on the company doing business with US suppliers, but the Republican-led US Senate has included an amendment to kill the settlement as part of a defense policy bill it approved.
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 U.S. border.
After the meeting, a spokeswoman for Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who attended and is a lead sponsor of the amendment, said ZTE was discussed, but offered no further details.
“He will continue to work with his colleagues to find a solution that protects our national security and Americans’ privacy from Chinese telecom companies,” spokeswoman Caroline Tabler said via email.
Republicans and Democrats have expressed national security concerns about ZTE and another major China-based telecommunications company, Huawei Technologies Ltd.
But their ire against ZTE rose after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
ZTE has agreed to pay a US$1 billion penalty and put US$400 million in an escrow account in a US bank as part of the settlement reached on June 7 to allow it to do business again with US suppliers.
In another development, several Republican and Democratic US lawmakers asked Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Wednesday to reconsider its work with Huawei, which they described as a security threat.
In a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, the lawmakers said Google recently decided not to renew “Project Maven”, an artificial intelligence research partnership with the US Department of Defense.
“While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the US military,” they wrote.
Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville said the company looked forward to responding.
“Like many US companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, including Huawei. We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreements, and our agreements include privacy and security protections for use data,” she said in an emailed statement.
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