U.S. Sanctions Chinese Tech Supplier Over Iran Ties

Washington has restricted the access of one of China's biggest telecoms equipment makers, ZTE Corp., to American components after concluding the state-owned company improperly exported U.S. technology to Iran.

The sanctions took effect Tuesday after ZTE was found to be "acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests" of the United States, the U.S. Commerce Department said. The department released documents it said showed ZTE set up front companies to evade U.S. controls on high-tech exports to Iran.

The Chinese government said it opposes the U.S. sanctions. ZTE's technology purchases support thousands of U.S. jobs that might be in jeopardy, the Commerce Ministry said.

"This approach will only hurt others without necessarily benefiting oneself," said China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, at a news conference Tuesday during the meeting of the national legislature.

ZTE said it was "fully committed" to obeying the law wherever it operates.

"ZTE has been cooperating, will continue to cooperate and communicate with all U.S. agencies as required," said a company statement. "The company is working expeditiously toward resolution of this issue."

The conflict reflects the complex ties between U.S. and Chinese technology companies despite Washington's concerns about sharing advanced know-how with China.

Most of the world's smartphones and personal computers are assembled in China. ZTE and other Chinese companies are developing their own technology but rely on Western chipsets and other components.

The sanctions could prompt Chinese leaders to push for faster development of their own fledgling technology suppliers, said Nikhil Batra, research manager for Asia-Pacific telecoms for IDC.

"It might be a boon" to officials who want to reduce reliance on foreign sources, said Batra.

"It's not likely to be their chief concern that one of their companies has been sanctioned when it can lead to better development of China as a technology marketplace," he said.

American companies also might be vulnerable to retaliation,...

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