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HONG KONG: A departing senior executive at China’s ZTE Corp, which is fighting a crippling US supplier ban, said in a letter to staff on Friday that his departure amid a Sino-US trade war was “deeply humiliating”.

Zhang Zhenhui was one of scores of executives at China’s No.2 telecommunications equipment maker ordered to leave as part of a $1.4 billion settlement deal ZTE made with the United States in June in order to end a seven-year supplier ban.

ZTE, which relies on US suppliers for core components, had to cease major operations in April after the US government imposed the ban, saying the firm broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade US sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

As part of the settlement, ZTE agreed to pay a $1bn fine, put $400m in escrow, and hire a US-appointed compliance monitor.

It also agreed to replace its board, remove all members of its leadership at or above senior vice-president level along with any executives associated with the wrongdoing, within 30 days.

Zhang, who was one of five executive vice presidents at ZTE and in charge of sales and marketing, issued a farewell letter to staff on Friday, employees said.

In the letter, which was circulated online on Saturday, Zhang recounted his 18 years at ZTE and said he had no responsibility in ZTE’s compliance violations.

“In the environment of a Sino-US trade war, in the ‘white terror’ of a technology war, all executive presidents including me have signed termination contracts to formally leave the company yesterday,” Zhang said.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

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