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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
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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 HollenDemocratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Lawmakers struggle with Capitol security after latest attack Democrats torn on Biden's bipartisan pledge MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference 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.

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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 PompeoMike PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Pompeo violated ethics rules, State Dept. watchdog finds MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says 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.