Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

Donald Trump pledges to help rescue Chinese telecoms giant ZTE

Donald Trump pledges to help rescue Chinese telecoms giant ZTE

"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast", Trump said on Twitter.

China requested that President Donald Trump back off his threat of tariffs on Chinese imports, treat Chinese investments equally under U.S. security reviews, and reassess the ban on ZTE.

He said that the Commerce Department, the United States authority which has imposed the seven-year ban, had been told to "get it done".

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The Trump administration punished Chinese tech company ZTE for illegal practices, but on Sunday, President Donald Trump said he's going to work to help ZTE because of "too many jobs in China lost". In this case, ZTE's infringements are so major - trade violations and national security concerns - that it is hard to envisage the company getting a pass, even with support from the White House.

The announcement by the fourth-largest wireless equipment maker in the country comes amid an escalating trade battle between the USA and China.

"As a result of the (US-imposed) Denial Order, the major operating activities of the company have ceased", ZTE said in regulatory filings late on Wednesday.

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The US accused ZTE of misleading American regulators after it settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran. "Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"

The Commerce Department ban on US suppliers exporting goods to the Chinese network equipment and handset maker was discussed when a delegation led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese officials in Beijing last week.

Granting a reprieve to ZTE - a firm with over 70,000 employees, over $17 billion in annual revenue and close ties to the government - doesn't fit with the strategy to hurt China, but then Trump's administration is hardly by the book and often times seemingly pragmatic. Last week, Telstra said it would stop sales of ZTE smartphones, though it indicated it was "hopeful that ZTE will be able to reach a resolution to this matter soon so that we can recommence selling Telstra-branded ZTE devices".

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Several U.S. intelligence agencies have warned against buying ZTE and Huawei phones. ZTE provides services for 100 million users in India, 300 million users in Indonesia, and 29 million users in Italy, the official said.

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