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ZTE says US trade ban on the company is 'unacceptable'

US companies have been barred for seven years from selling hardware and software to Chinese phone and telecommunications company ZTE.

Josh Miller/CNET

It's been a bad week for ZTE. On Monday, the US Commerce Department banned all American companies from selling their software and hardware to ZTE. This, the Chinese phone and telecommunications company said, is unacceptable.

"It is extremely unfair to ZTE and we cannot accept it!" the company said in a statement, according to Reuters. "Refusal orders will not only seriously endanger the survival of ZTE, but also hurt the interests of all ZTE's partners including a large number of U.S. companies."  

For ZTE phones, the biggest issue is how this effects the company's use of hardware from Qualcomm, the developer of the Snapdragon processors found in many of its smartphones, and Google's Android software. 

In a statement on its site, ZTE said the application of the ruling is "unacceptable."

The ban comes after ZTE pleaded guilty in March 2017 to illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea, for which it agreed to pay up to $1.2 billion in penalties. Part of the settlement required ZTE to take action against employees involved in the violations. 

The Commerce Department said Monday that ZTE officials lied about reprimanding the employees and even gave some of them full bonuses.