ZTE has requested an end to its ban on purchasing USA technology

Johannes Eisele—AFP

Johannes Eisele—AFP

Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp (中興) has asked the USA government to lift a ban on sales to the company, which threatens its survival and has added to trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. The company has said that the ban threatens its existence by cutting off access to USA suppliers of key components like microchips.

The Chinese company, which sells smartphones and telecommunications equipment around the world, has found itself caught up in a tense US-China trade fight.

"The goal is to check that the products are not meant for developing military weapons", said a Bureau of Foreign Trade official, who declined to be named, adding that the extra precaution is in line with United Nations sanctions against Iran. This ban had also ignited the existence of US and China trade wars.

The Chinese firm didn't give details of its request or say when it had been made, but it did say that it provided additional material at the BIS' request.

Last week, Chinese negotiators holding trade talks with USA counterparts in Beijing asked the United States to hear ZTE's appeal, take into account the firm's efforts to improve its compliance and amend the ban.

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U.S. concerns over Chinese tech and national security are a recurring problem for ZTE and Huawei, another huge Chinese company that makes smartphones and telecommunications equipment.

ZTE is heavily reliant on the Snapdragon chipsets, and such a ban is “unacceptable and threatens its survival”, the company was quoted by Reuters.

ZTE shares, which trade in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, have been suspended since the Commerce Department announced the ban last month.

ZTE was first fined $1.19 billion in 2017 by the Commerce Department for selling goods and services to Iran and North Korea.

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