President Trump today, out of the blue, tweeted that he and the President of China are working to help out the Chinese phone company ZTE. Trump now says he has instructed the Commerce Department to assist ZTE, most likely by somehow lifting the ban - though it's not clear why, or what, if anything, the USA may be getting from China in return, of if the move may be in some way related to the upcoming summit with North Korea.
The company said it was halting all of its major business activities in the U.S. last week after the country's Department of Commerce issued a so-called denial order, prohibiting American exporters from doing business with it, but appeared to have been thrown a lifeline by Mr Trump yesterday.
The U.S. Commerce Department barred American companies from selling components to ZTE in April after it violated sanctions on Iran and North Korea and then misled the department.
Given that US sanctions were imposed on ZTE due to threats to national security and its violation of trade sanctions with Iran and North Korea, Trump's desire to give the company another chance in the U.S.is truly unexpected.
A bit of background: ZTE is one of the largest smartphone makers in China, where the company employs 75,000, according to The New York Times.
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Trump's tweet confirms high level concerns on both sides of the Pacific over the effect the trade ban will have on ZTE and its employees.
Trump's reassurance comes as the US and China - the world's two largest economies - have hit each other with tariffs in an escalating trade battle.
"But be cool, it will all work out!" he wrote. Those penalties prevented U.S. companies selling to the Chinese concern, which is a bit of a show-stopper as ZTE is reliant on USA companies for all manner of parts - Qualcomm for smartphone CPUs is the tip of the iceberg.
Trump expects Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross "to exercise his independent judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts", Walters said.
ZTE's current struggles have made it the most visible outcome thus far of a brewing trade war between the United States and China. The Department of Commerce has not made an official comment as yet, but what might be expected are tighter restrictions on ZTE.
A United States blockade has choked off the revenue of the No. 2 Chinese telecom company, which regards the next two weeks as crucial as it faces potential collapse.
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Experts said Trump's policy reversal was unprecedented.
There is a risk of letting any company "beholden to foreign governments" inside the country's telecommunications infrastructure, he said.
California Representative Adam Schiff said: "Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs".
FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018.
ZTE suppliers including Acacia, Oclaro, Lumentum Holdings, Finisar, Inphi and Fabrinet, all fell sharply after the ban was announced.
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