00:17 GMT +317 February 2019
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    ZTE Sales Exec Ousted in Deal With US Calls Departure ‘Deeply Humiliating’

    CC BY 2.0 / Kārlis Dambrāns / ZTE
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    A senior executive of China’s ZTE smartphone maker, who was forced to resign in order to evade a US exports ban, called his departure “deeply humiliating” in a letter circulated online.

    Zhang Zhenhui, a top executive at ZTE, China's number two smartphone manufacturer, was among other senior executives of the company who resigned and wrote a letter to company employees.

    "In the environment of a Sino-US trade war, in the ‘white terror' of a technology war, all executive presidents including me […] signed termination contracts to formally leave the company yesterday," Zhang said in a letter that was posted online, according to the Daily Caller.

    As Sputnik reported earlier, ZTE was forced to change its board of directors, CEO, CFO and CTO, as well as other executives, in order to avoid a crippling US export ban after the company was found to have sold US technology to North Korea and Iran, in violation of its deal with Washington.

    According to a Reuters report, nearly two dozen executives were forced to resign on Friday. Zhang, one of five executive vice presidents at ZTE, was in charge of sales and marketing.

    In his letter to staff, Zhang said he was not responsible for the company's compliance violations.

    ZTE relies on Qualcomm chips and the Google Android operating system to run its smartphones. The effect of the US-imposed export ban was heavy enough on the company that it had to shut down operations in May.

    Under the recent settlement deal, the company was granted a temporary lift of the ban in exchange for a $1 billion fine plus $400 million to be placed in escrow, and the total replacement of the entire upper management team. After the company has been shown to have honored its promise, the ban is expected to be lifted permanently.

    In the letter, Zhang praised ZTE's long-time rival Huawei Technologies, saying he truly wished Huawei, as a Chinese company, could "straighten up its spine and face inevitable challenges in the future."

    Huawei, the world's largest telecom equipment maker, has also been under scrutiny in the US, as federal watchdogs allege that the company is linked to the Chinese government, an accusation that Huawei has repeatedly denied.


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    smartphones, trade war, ZTE, United States, China