USA’s Commerce Department Bans China Mobile From US Market As It Ends ZTE Ban

Image Source: sfnews

Image Source: sfnews

The US Commerce Department has been very strict against Chinese telecom companies: they have constantly restricted sale and trade with said companies and even banned ZTE from trading with companies in the US that sells parts and other supplies for making smartphones and other devices. One of the said restrictions was the selling of products inside US bases.

This time, the Commerce Department targets China Mobile, citing that national security is at risk if they let in China within the US telecommunication’s market. China Mobile’s application was submitted in 2011, but the Commerce Department was only able to recommend to the Federal Communications Commission to deny China Mobile of their application. Commerce’s spokesman, David J. Redl, said the same thing in a statement: “After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to US law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved.”

This all started when the Commerce Department started restricting Huawei and ZTE a few months ago. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei, had voiced his opinion that this was all orchestrated by a rival US company. Both the security departments and commerce department of the US government cited that their national security is at risk with Chinese electronic products entering the US. They have no proof that Huawei products are a threat, however, there had been an example in the past where Chinese phones were found to have backdoors and exploits on them. On top of that, the US and China have been waging an electronic war, trying to hack each other, for a long time now. This all should have stopped in 2015 when both countries made an agreement to stop hacking each other.

Image Source: techwinter

ZTE’s Axom M (Image Source: techwinter)

Trump has been meteoric with handling the relationship of US with China and claimed he has a personal relationship with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, when he tasked the Commerce Department to find a way to handle this without banning ZTE, which is a big partner of US component manufacturers. Losing ZTE would also mean that a lot of US citizens employed by ZTE would lose their jobs.

Eventually, Commerce gave in and is now considering ending ZTE’s 7-year ban this Thursday. Of course, the thing is just temporary: The ban is withheld only until August 1. Bloomberg reports that the company must have complied with the demands of the USA by then or face the ban. ZTE hopes that with Trump on their side and bilateral trade talks between the US and China ongoing, ZTE might be allowed to trade with its US partners once again.

Trump, of course, faced criticism because of this, from all sides of the political spectrum, something that didn’t happen to Obama when he made the no-hacking agreement with China. The Commerce Department, though, demanded $1 billion as a penalty for ZTE for trading with Iran. The US Senate, unhappy with Trump backing ZTE, added the ZTE sanctions on a military spending bill.

China Mobile’s case, however, is entirely different. The company has no known partners in the US and has no foothold in its market like ZTE does so there’s no hope that Trump is going to rescue China Mobile as he did for ZTE. It also won’t make as much impact if China Mobile is banned from making business in the US. China has not made a statement about this one yet.

Donald Trump has weaponized the term "fake news". (Image Source: Gage Skidmore)

Image Source: Gage Skidmore

On the American side, it seems that Trump and his co-workers cannot agree on how to handle China. The Senate and everyone opposing Trump seem hellbent on making China their enemy again, even if they need to sacrifice the jobs of their people and risking a trade war that could cost the US millions more. Whether they legitimately think this is a good idea, or they just want to see the US burn to the ground because Trump is the president will forever be a mystery.