Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela

Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela
© Getty Images

A bipartisan pair of senators is asking the White House to look into whether the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE violated U.S. sanctions by helping Venezuela track and monitor its citizens.

In a letter shared with The Hill, Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms 'in coming days' Bass: 'Lesson learned' on 2016 Castro comments Trump campaign targets Bass amid speculation over Biden VP pick MORE (R-Fla.) write that they are concerned that, by building a database to help Venezuela track its citizens, ZTE "may have violated U.S. export controls and sanctions laws" as well as an agreement between the Commerce Department and ZTE reached earlier this year.


The letter was set to be sent to the White House on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report, and follows a Reuters investigation revealing ZTE was helping Venezuela build a database to track its citizens through identification cards.

The letter is addressed to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Pompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms 'in coming days' Navarro: 'Don't fall for' message from TikTok lobbyists, 'puppet CEO' MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossMini-exodus of Trump officials from Commerce to lobby on semiconductors Trump census order faces logistical challenge US sanctions 11 Chinese companies over human rights violations MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House not optimistic on near-term stimulus deal Sunday shows - Stimulus debate dominates On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP MORE.

The senators in the letter request that the White House find out whether ZTE worked with any Venezuelan officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. and whether ZTE helped Venezuela undermine democratic processes or violate human rights.

The Trump administration earlier this year placed sanctions on several people close to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including his wife and vice president.

Van Hollen and Rubio are also asking the White House to assess whether ZTE violated U.S. export controls by installing data storage units in Venezuela built by Dell technologies and to assess whether ZTE's work in Venezuela breached its agreement with the Commerce Department.

That deal lifted a ban on American companies selling to ZTE, but the deal also allowed the Commerce Department to reimpose the ban if ZTE violated terms of the agreement.

Van Hollen and Rubio requested in their letter that the White House respond within 30 days.