China’s ZTE Names New Boss to Try to Shake Off US Curbs

China's ZTE Names New Boss to Try to Shake Off US Curbs

Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Tuesday announced a new president as it seeks the permanent lifting of US restrictions imposed for alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.

Shi Lirong, in place since 2010, will be replaced by Zhao Xianming who will also become board chairman, the firm said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Zhao was previously chief technology officer.

Tian Wenguo and Qiu Weizhao were replaced as executive vice presidents.

China’s second-biggest telecoms equipment maker is trying to shake off the US restrictions imposed on ZTE and three linked companies last month.

The US says they illicitly re-exported controlled items from the United States to sanctioned countries including Iran.

The curbs require ZTE to have specific licences before shipping US-made items to the parent company or the other three named firms.

According to documents published by the US Department of Commerce, Tian and Qiu were in charge of ZTE’s plans to allegedly avoid the US export rules starting from 2011, by setting up shell companies to circumvent the US sanctions, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The newspaper added that as part of a deal between the US Department of Commerce and ZTE to temporarily remove the sanctions, the company executives involved in the alleged violations should be removed from senior roles.

Washington in January eased several restrictions on doing business with Iran following an international agreement over its nuclear programme.

But sanctions linked to accusations that Tehran supports terrorism remain in force, still largely blocking US companies from doing business with Iran.

ZTE has customers in more than 160 countries.

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