President Donald Trump said Sunday he has instructed his Commerce Department to help get a Chinese telecommunications company "back into business" after the USA government cut off access to its American suppliers. In a stark announcement earlier this week, the Chinese telecom giant confirmed it was shutting down "major operating activities". 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 US may be getting from China in return, of if the move may be in some way related to the upcoming summit with North Korea.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to resume trade talks with the Trump administration this week, after discussions in Beijing last week yielded no agreement on a long list of United States trade demands. "Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!" And the Federal Communications Commission recently moved toward prohibiting USA internet providers that receive federal funds from spending them on equipment made by companies such as Huawei, another major Chinese telecom player. The company's R&D expenditure a year ago stood at 12.96 billion yuan, which accounted for about 11.9 percent of the company's operating revenue.
According to the New York Times, the company's workers are now only participating in occasional training sessions, and ZTE's stock remains frozen.
During recent trade meetings in Beijing, Chinese officials said they raised their objections to ZTE's punishment with the American delegation, which they said agreed to report them to Trump.
But replacing US-made parts for its phones is a tall task.
As a result of the ban, the Shenzhen-based group will be unable to access Qualcomm processors and Android devices with Google Mobile Services software.
Republican Representative Robert Pittenger, a sponsor of legislation that would strengthen the USA national security review process for foreign investment, said after the Commerce ban was announced that the United States "must be vigilant against Chinese threats to both our economic security and national security".
ZTE, a smartphone and telecom equipment maker that does business around the world, announced last week that it has halted its main operations after the Trump administration banned American companies from selling it vital components. During the campaign, Trump blasted China for what he alleged was a pattern of cheating through currency devaluation and other measures to steal American jobs and hurt US workers.