The Wall Street Journal: White House moves to protect ZTE deal from Senate opposition

WASHINGTON — The White House moved to protect its deal with Beijing to rescue ZTE Corp. 0763, -41.56%  , taking steps to head off a bipartisan effort to use a must-pass defense bill to reinstate a ban on sales of U.S. components to the Chinese telecommunication company.

A senior White House official said Wednesday that the administration would try to remove Senate language that severed a lifeline the Trump administration had extended to the company. The Senate is expected to pass the bill as soon as this week, and the White House official said the administration would try to block the measure later in the legislative process.

“The administration must be getting some pushback now from China,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., “I may have a misunderstanding — I don’t think so — but there had been a wink and a nod saying look we did what we did with the leader of China but if Congress wants to counter that they’re free to do so.”

The spat between the White House and Congress has its roots in a move initiated by President Donald Trump, who tweeted May 13 that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping were “working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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