China's ZTE a national security risk, United Kingdom telcos warned

17 April, 2018, 20:21 | Author: Lynette Payne
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According to Reuters, US manufacturers are estimated to provide up to a third of the components in ZTE's network equipment and smartphones, so the US action could have a disastrous impact on the Chinese business.

On Monday, Britain's main cyber security agency said it had written to organizations in the telecommunications sector warning about using services or equipment from ZTE.

ZTE's failure to keep to its agreement resulted in the US Department of Commerce announcing yesterday that all American companies are banned from selling components to ZTE for a period of 7 years.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed the ban following ZTE's violation of an agreement on punishing employees that was reached after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran.

For ZTE itself, the latest USA action means one of the world's top makers of smartphones and communications gear will no longer be able to buy technology from American suppliers, including components central to its products.

As part of the agreement, Shenzhen-based ZTE promised to dismiss four senior employees and discipline 35 others by either reducing their bonuses or reprimanding them, senior US officials told Reuters.

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"Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management, ZTE rewarded them", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the statement. This could have a devastating impact on the company given that USA companies are believed to account for 25 to 30 percent of ZTE's components to build phones and networks.

ZTE, whose Hong Kong and Shenzhen shares were suspended from trade on Tuesday, said in a statement it was assessing the implications of the US decision and was communicating with "relevant parties".

And although the White House and the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States has moved against China in recent weeks, it insisted that the new decision to block ZTE - already under investigation by the Barack Obama administration - is part of a backlash against the country which also includes countries such as Germany, Australia and Canada.

The company grew to become one of the world's biggest telecoms equipment makers thanks to its cheap and affordable smart phone technology. President, Donald Trump, accused China along with Russian Federation on the issue of devaluation of the currency.

US firms are also likely to get caught in the crossfire, with the fallout set to hit Qualcomm Inc, which provides the lion's share of chips inside ZTE smartphones. ZTE already sells both its branded and white-label smartphones via mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon in the US.

ZTE agreed in March of previous year to plead guilty and pay as much as $1.2 billion for violating USA laws restricting sale of American technology to Iran. "On the road forward, we must be steadfast in belief, have even more faith in the company and believe that we will be stronger after weathering the storm".

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