- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday attempted to curb President Trump’s ability to ease sanctions on ZTE Corp., amid trade talks between Washington and Beijing and growing concerns that the Chinese cellphone maker poses security risks to U.S. national security.

On Tuesday, committee members approved an amendment, in a 23-2 vote, to block the White House from easing sanctions on ZTE by requiring the administration first prove to Congress that the Shenzen-based company is complying with U.S. law.

During a separate Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Treasure Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said any easing of sanctions would heed national security concerns.

“Anything that they consider will take into account the very important national security issues, and those will be addressed,” Mr. Mnuchin told committee members.

He did not confirm that a move was underway to lift the ban.

The ban on ZTE has become snared in trade talks between the Trump administration and Beijing, and alarms are being raised about ZTE’s ability to breach U.S. national security by selling phones to Americans.

Last month, Washington barred ZTE from receiving U.S. exports after the firm failed to comply with a settlement reached after it violated sanctions against North Korea and Iran. The Pentagon previously banned the phones on military bases because of the security concerns.

Earlier this month in response to a personal request by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr. Trump ordered a review of the ZTE ban, which has the potential to devastate the firm that is China’s second-largest manufacturer of cellphones.

“If the president and his team won’t follow through on tough sanctions against ZTE, it’s up to Congress to ensure that it happens,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Republicans also came out against moves to ease off ZTE. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, on Tuesday said China appeared to be “out-negotiating” the administration by securing concessions “without giving up anything meaningful in return.”

Mr. Rubio tweeted, “Sadly #China is out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now. They have avoided tariffs & got a #ZTE deal without giving up anything meaningful in return by using N.Korea talks & agriculture issues as leverage. This is #NotWinning.”

• S.A. Miller contributed to this article.

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