President Donald Trump sent out a surprising tweet Sunday stating that he was working with China to get Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE “back into 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,” the president tweeted, adding that too many jobs were being lost in China to the bans put in place by the Department of Commerce in April.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
The telecom company was fined around one billion dollars in March after it pleaded guilty in federal court to violating U.S. sanctions by illegally selling and shipping American products to Iran. The Commerce Department imposed a seven-year ban on sales of components to ZTE in April for making false statements in the relevant investigation into those sanctions violations, constituting a failure to comply with a related agreement with the U.S. government.
The ban is believed to have hit the company hard, but apparently, the president is interested in helping it recover.
In addition to sanctions violations, ZTE has also alarmed American intelligence agencies. Analysts are worried that giving Chinese telecom companies with connections to the Chinese government access to American networks could represent a national security risk.
In February, six intelligence chiefs warned against buying ZTE and Huawei phones, with FBI Director Christopher Wray noting that his agency is “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.”
While the U.S. and China have been trading jabs in recent weeks in an escalating trade war, both sides have also been in talks to alleviate rising tensions between the first and second largest economies.
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