RICHARDSON, TX—ZTE is searching for new PR support in the US, amid continued political scrutiny of the phone manufacturer's ties to the Chinese government.

The company, which is currently ranked as the world's fourth-largest smartphone maker, has previously worked with Ogilvy PR in the US. That assignment has focused largely on public affairs, after ZTE and rival Huawei were flagged as security threats by the US Congress last year.

It is understood that ZTE is now seeking a broader scope of communications activity, as it steps up marketing plans in the US. For example, the company recently launched a Firefox OS smartphone, which it is selling on eBay.

An Ogilvy PR spokesperson said that the firm will complete its work with ZTE at the end of the summer and has opted to "move in a different direction." Ogilvy is also part of LG-One, the multi-agency WPP team that handles LG Electronics' global PR business.

The US PR search is the latest evidence of ZTE's global ambitions. The company recently hired Hotwire in Europe to help it climb into the ranks of the top three mobile device companies within three years.

In addition to smartphones, ZTE is produces a range of devices, including The company produces a range of devices, tablets, mobile broadband modems and hotspots and desktop integration terminals.

ZTE representatives did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.