ZTE’s future is currently grim in light of the revived US export ban, but is it guaranteed to wither and die? Not necessarily. President Trump has tweeted that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are “working together” to give ZTE a “way to get back into business.” Just how that would happen wasn’t clear, but he told the US Commerce Department to “get it done.”
The tech giant was supposed to have avoided a US export ban after it had been caught illegally shipping telecom hardware to Iran and North Korea (and lying about it), but that ban came back into effect after the Commerce Department determined that ZTE hadn’t punished the involved employees as it had promised.
Whether or not ZTE actually gets another chance is another matter. The company has already been pushing for a solution that could limit or reverse the export ban, but this doesn’t guarantee that officials can give ZTE the reprieve it wants. If ZTE didn’t honor the terms from the original ban suspension, what measures will keep it honest this time around? It may have to accept more restrictions than it would like if it wants to stay in business.