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U.S. lifts ZTE ban amid congressional concerns, company shares jump

After the U.S. lifted its ban on ZTE -- just three months after imposing it on the company for violating sanctions on North Korea and Iran -- the Chinese phone maker's shares saw a 17 percent hike on the Hong Kong exchange Monday.

The company has paid a $1.4 billion fine, $400 million of which goes into escrow at a U.S. bank, and changed its management and board to meet terms laid out by the U.S.

ZTE had seen its stocks tumble after the U.S. forbade domestic companies from buying ZTE equipment after the sanctions violations and amid concern that the company had engaged in cyberespionage, charges it denied.

Lifting the ban drew the ire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“ZTE should be put out of business. There is no ‘deal' with a state-directed company that the Chinese government and Communist Party uses to spy and steal from us where Americans come out winning,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had pushed for the Senate and House Armed Services committee chairmen to include the Cotton-Van Hollen-Schumer-Rubio amendment reinstating penalties against the company in their NDAA FY2019 Conference Report.

“We must put American jobs and national security first, which is why I have urged NDAA conferees to ensure the bipartisan provision to reinstate penalties against ZTE is included in the final bill.”

In a Friday tweet Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “I hope my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate will do the right thing and maintain the Senate's strong language in the defense bill that reverses the administration's awful ZTE deal.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has pledged that the U.S. would “remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE's actions to ensure compliance with all U.S. laws and regulations.”

He said that “three interlocking elements -- a suspended denial order, the $400 million in escrow, and a compliance team selected by and answerable to the Department -- will allow the Department to protect U.S. national security.”

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