U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is trying to find a way to let giant Chinese technology firm ZTE “to get back into business, fast” after the U.S. had barred the company from using American components.
“Too many jobs in China lost,” Trump said in a Twitter comment days after ZTE announced it had ceased “major operating activities” because of the cutoff of U.S.-made parts that provide a quarter or more of the parts needed to build its wireless stations, optical fiber networks and smartphones.
Trump has often complained about China stealing U.S. jobs, but said he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to ease the economic fallout at ZTE and had ordered the U.S. Commerce Department “to get it done!”
ZTE halted manufacturing at its Shenzhen factory after the Commerce Department blocked access to American-made components until 2025, contending that ZTE had failed to punish its workers for violating U.S. trade controls against North Korea and Iran.
The U.S. fined ZTE $1.2 billion last year but said last month the company had failed to live up to the agreement and lied about punishing the employees believed to be involved in skirting the sanctions, instead paying them bonuses.
ZTE, with 75,000 employees and business in more than 160 countries, is the No. 4 smartphone vendor in the U.S. When the U.S. sanctions were announced in April, ZTE said it had worked to improve its compliance with the trade bans and sent the U.S. commerce agency information to support its request to end the U.S. export ban.
Trump’s move to help the Chinese technology firm could signal a thaw in trade relations between the world’s two biggest economies, the U.S. and No. 2 China.
The U.S. leader has proposed tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports, and Beijing has responded in kind. The two countries have held trade talks during the tariff standoff, but there has been no immediate resolution to call off the tariff hikes.