Senators want to punish ZTE for helping Venezuela spy on its own citizens
ZTE still has the ire of the US government behind it. Even as it is paying off penalties for its sanction breaches with trading to Iranian and North Korean businesses, two US senators will allege that it has again betrayed embargoes against Venezuela.
Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) will urge the State Department, Treasury Department and Commerce Department to investigate if ZTE. Reuters reports the company may have used US-made components to create a citizen identity card that could track behavior through financial institutions, political activity, on social media and other factors for the Venezeuelan government as well as an accompanying database.
The West believes that ZTE, which is majority-controlled by a state-owned company, has been heavily involved in Venezuela — particularly in the government-owned telecom Cantv — to strengthen its authoritarian grip, held by President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro claims that the US has been waging “economic war” to weaken his administration, issuing sanctions against key members of his party.
Aides to the senators say that letters will go to the bureaucracies tomorrow. They ask the Trump administration to consider if any potential breach would be a violation of an agreement that probated ZTE from an imports ban.