WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump pledged on Sunday to help ZTE Corp “get back into business, fast” after a U.S. ban crippled the Chinese technology company, offering a job-saving concession to Beijing ahead of high-stakes trade talks this week.
“Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump wrote on Twitter in the first of two tweets about U.S. trade relations with China. It said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working together on a solution for ZTE.
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, a Democratic lawmaker questioned the move to help the Chinese company, given numerous warnings about ZTE’s alleged threat to U.S. national security.
ZTE suspended its main operations after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American companies from selling to the firm for seven years as punishment for ZTE breaking an agreement reached after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran.
The Commerce Department, ZTE and the Chinese embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters confirmed that U.S. officials are in contact with Beijing about ZTE. She said Trump’s tweet underscored the importance of “free, fair, balanced and mutually beneficial” relations between the United States and China on issues involving the economy, trade and investment.
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.
U.S. officials are preparing for talks in Washington with China’s top trade official Liu He to resolve an escalating trade dispute.
Trump’s proposed reversal will likely ease relations between the world’s two biggest economies. Washington and Beijing have proposed tens of billions of dollars in tariffs in