Trump defends U-turn on China’s ZTE ahead of trade talks

 Washington, May 15(UNI) Justifying his pledge to help China’s ZTE “get back into business” after critics claimed he was “backing off”, US President Donald Trump said the country is working on a “larger trade deal” and the Chinese tech firm buys many parts from the US.
 
The US had banned American companies from selling parts to ZTE, after it admitted to making illegal shipments to Iran and North Korea.
But the US will now consider alternatives to the supplier ban.
ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from US companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi.
The concession was welcomed in China and comes ahead of high-level trade talks this week in Washington aimed at addressing an escalating dispute between the world’s two largest economies, BBC News reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources, that the reprieve for ZTE was being negotiated as part of a possible deal in which China would lift tariffs on certain US agricultural products, such as ginseng, that went into effect in April.
Mr Trump on Monday referenced the trade talks to explain the change.
He tweeted, “ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from US companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi”.
Beijing has made resolving the situation of ZTE, which employs about 80,000 people, one of its demands for a broader trade agreement with the US.
“We greatly appreciate the positive position of the US on the ZTE issue and are in close communication with the US on the details of the issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the department will explore alternatives to the ZTE ban ‘very, very promptly.’
ZTE suspended operations following last month’s ban. The firm spent more than 2.3 bn dollar on imports from about 200 US companies last year and relies on the parts for its equipment, which includes smart phones and telecommunications equipment.