President Trump said Wednesday that the ZTE issue revolving around the Chinese company's trade ban is related to the trade negotiations between the United States and China after all, going back on Washington's previous stance which saw stateside officials claim the two are entirely separate. The Shenzhen-based tech giant was banned from purchasing any kind of American technologies over a seven-year period last month, with the Department of Commerce punishing it for failing to comply with a 2017 settlement reached after the firm pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate U.S. trade sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea.
Last Sunday, President Trump said he's working with Beijing on getting ZTE "back into business" as soon as possible so as to save Chinese jobs, without elaborating on the matter. The development prompted widespread speculation and criticism, with numerous politicians and industry watchers suggesting the President's "America first" rhetoric has now taken a back seat to a seemingly worse strategy. In a series of tweets posted yesterday, President Trump wrote that "nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal," adding that China already saw Washington's demands but has yet to provide that of its own. No trade negotiations between the two have yet started, the President said, asserting that "China has much to give," unlike the U.S. which already gave "so much" in recent times with regard to trade.
ZTE halted its main operations earlier this month after finding the Commerce Department-imposed ban to be entirely crippling for its endeavors, making it unable to continue day-to-day business. The company already filed for a reprieve of the sanction until its appeal is heard and ruled on, with the President saying it instructed the federal agency to do what it can in order to resolve the issue without having the firm go under. ZTE previously argued the ban is unfair because it's a result of a self-reported omission and not an intentional act of defiance against the U.S. government, calling the federal response to the development "unacceptable."