WASHINGTON — President Trump said Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working to put the troubled Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE back in business.
“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 in a message on Twitter. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”
Trump, who has taken a hardline stance on trade with China, said in a follow-up tweet a few hours later that China and the U.S. are working well together on trade, "but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China, for so many years, that it is hard for them to make a deal that benefits both countries."
"But be cool, it will all work out!" he wrote.
ZTE, maker of Android phones popular with budget-minded consumers, said Wednesday that it would cease “major operating activities,” raising questions not only about its survival, but the impact on U.S. consumers who have previously bought or were thinking of buying ZTE phones.
The announcement followed a decision last month by the U.S. Commerce Department, which banned American companies from exporting products to the Shenzhen, China-based telecom firm for seven years.
The U.S. government accused ZTE of violating a March 2017 settlement in which the firm pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.19 billion for illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea.
Separately, lawmakers in the U.S. have placed ZTE and even larger Chinese telecom companies in the cross hairs over their reputed ties to the Chinese intelligence and military establishment.
ZTE warned that the ban would “severely impact the survival and development of ZTE” and cause damages to all its partners, including many U.S. companies.