The US Department of Commerce in April banned exports to ZTE, which has left the company struggling to continue operations — apparently down to some basic office maintenance levels. According to a report by South China Morning Post, the company is claiming that it cannot fix a broken urinal at its Shenzhen office because it is made by American Standard, a New Jersey-based manufacturer.
A photo shared on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo shows a note above the offending urinal, saying that it cannot be fixed without ordering parts from the US, which would violate sanctions. “Our company is now subject to the export ban posed by the US government. Since this bathroom appliance is a product of American Standard, we can’t procure the spare parts for repair due to the export ban,” the note, which SCMP verified with an ZTE employee as authentic, reads. “When the export ban is lifted, we promise to get the parts, repair it, and resume operation at once. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.”
It is unclear whether the note is genuine or part of ZTE’s effort to send a message to the US to lift the ban against the company. Earlier this month, the Commerce Department agreed to a deal that will allow ZTE to purchase US components and accessories again after President Trump vowed to work with Chinese president Xi Jinping to address the “many jobs lost in China.” However, the Senate voted this week to reinstate the ban, citing security risks. The move still has to clear the House of Representatives.