ZTE smartphones rely on chips and flash memories imported from the US, as well as Google's Android operating system. Photo: Engadget
ZTE smartphones rely on chips and flash memories imported from the US, as well as Google's Android operating system. Photo: Engadget

The repercussions of Washington’s ban on exports of parts to ZTE and business transactions with that Chinese communications heavyweight may push the company to its nadir.   

Now it has emerged that, on top of the embargo on exports of chips and hardware, even mobile operating systems – developed by US companies and licensed to ZTE for its smartphone business – may also fall into the sphere of the far-reaching ban as the US Commerce Department has prohibited the Shenzhen-based tech firm from transactions involving any commodity, software or technology to be exported from the US, for a period of seven years.  

Google, owner of Android, the world’s most used mobile operating system run on virtually all smartphones other than Apple’s iPhones, may suspend ZTE’s license in accordance with the new measure.  

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that ZTE might soon feel the brunt of the lockout should Google cut off access to the Android OS. 

ZTE shipped more than 46 million smartphones running Android in 2017, making it the world’s seventh-largest mobile-device vendor, according to market-data cruncher IHS Markit.

ZTE was the seventh-largest smartphone maker in 2017. Photo: ZTE

The consumer-electronics business has become a new pillar of income for the tech juggernaut as it seeks to diversify its portfolio. ZTE generates most of its revenue from business-to-business sales of telecom equipment and network solutions.  

ZTE lawyers have been meeting with Google officials about the issue, sources told Bloomberg. Google and ZTE declined to comment.  

Washington’s punitive order to single out ZTE in an escalating its trade row with Beijing has further fueled a nationalist groundswell in China.  

Hu Xijin, chief editor of the tabloid Global Times, sister publication of the top Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, has joined Beijing’s fresh call to expedite the development of chips and semiconductors at home in the face of the US interdiction.  

On his Weibo account, Hu, nowadays an Internet and media personality known for his rather sensational grandstanding and preaching about patriotism, appealed for a boycott of everything made or invented in the United States.  

“China and Chinese companies must not be bullied in a way like this…. We Chinese people must back ZTE and Huawei,” he wrote.  

Hu Xijin used an iPhone 7 Plus and posted on Weibo a call for boycott of US products. Photo: Weibo

Yet the irony is that, as shown in the post, Hu used an iPhone 7 Plus to make his righteous remarks.  

His post was soon inundated by comments and messages with netizens mocking his “sham love of the country.”