ZTE wants to prove that it's not spying on America and its people, and is reportedly gathering a lobbying force to clear its name.
Consumer electronics, in general, play a big role in the North American market. The United States, in particular, has some of the most gadget-hungry consumers, so it comes as no surprise that foreign firms want to target American consumers when developing things like smartphones and tablets. That said, ZTE, a Chinese hardware manufacturer and the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker, has been tagged as a brand that might threaten the national security of the red, white and blue.
Government officials in the U.S. (some say that competing firms, i.e. Cisco, have a hand in the matter) have gone out of their way to say that ZTE devices imported into the country may be used to spy on America and its people. The White House Intelligence Committee released a report in October stating that the U.S. needs to “consider the long-term security risks associated with doing business with either ZTE or Huawei for equipment or services.” The report also went to say that ZTE and Huawei cannot be trusted because of the companies’ strong tie with their authoritarian government.
There are no conclusive evidences that can prove ZTE (or Huawei) has malicious intents, but its brand has been tainted with the conspiracy stamp nonetheless. So what now? ZTE can’t simply just abandon one of its largest markets. True to the cliché “fight fire with fire,” ZTE is purported to be gathering a lobbying force in the nation’s capital to clear itself of the ‘threat’ label.
It certainly won’t be easy for a Chinese firm to convince the portions of the U.S. government that it poses no threats to national security. However, ZTE seems to know the U.S. lobbying system well as it has linked up with some very notable names in the lobbying business. ZTE has reportedly brought aboard Ogilvy and DLA Piper, and former U.S. ambassador Tom Korologos to help the Chinese firm regain a positive image in front of the American people.
The move to tackle its branding issues in the heart of America is a bold one, and ZTE’s march into Washington will definitely be met with oppositions. But win or lose, ZTE won’t wave the white flag anytime soon.