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Asia Policy

The Obscure Agency That Brought Down ZTE Is in Middle of Trade Fight

Chinese officials are visiting Washington, D.C., this week, in a bid to rescue telecom giant ZTE after President Trump suggested he might walk back sweeping trade penalties against the company. The saga has put the spotlight on a little-known division of the Commerce Department that is expected to gain new authority to regulate technology exports.

The Trump administration has charged the Bureau of Industry and Security with determining which new technology should face export restrictions, in what would be the biggest expansion of the agency’s purview since the Cold War. The agency’s broadening role has alarmed some people in the tech industry, who have had few dealings with the obscure agency.

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