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While it's not surprising that Trump would announce his support for such a move on Twitter, the fact that he's so forcefully supporting ZTE in the first place raises eyebrows for a number of reasons.

In remarks that left many puzzled earlier Sunday, Trump said he was working with Beijing to get Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE "back into business".

Trump campaigned on restoring manufacturing jobs in the U.S., not China.

President Donald Trump on Sunday expressed confidence that the USA and China would be able to get over their differences on trade, saying that both governments are "working well together" on the issue.

Only a couple of days after ZTE announced it was ceasing all major operations as a result of the U.S. ban shattering the firms supply chain, Trump revealed in a couple of tweets he and President Xi were working alongside each other to turnaround fortunes. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced last March that a $1.19 billion penalty had been levied against ZTE for violating USA sanctions prohibiting the sale of telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea.

The company has been banned from selling equipment in the USA, but shutting out supply chain partners like Intel, Qualcomm and Google is potentially catastrophic.

Granting a reprieve to ZTE - a firm with over 70,000 employees, over $17 billion in annual revenue and close ties to the government - doesn't fit with the strategy to hurt China, but then Trump's administration is hardly by the book and often times seemingly pragmatic.

Trump's offer for aid comes at a moment of sky-high trade tensions between the United States and China. Unlike many other Chinese smartphone makers, ZTE's Android phones are also popular in the U.S, thanks to low-priced phones and savvy marketing ploys (the company's sponsored five National Basketball Association teams, including the Golden State Warriors). "This egregious behavior can not be ignored".

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The U.S. ban has additionally been interpreted as a possible salvo in the burgeoning trade war between the Trump administration and China, and through that lens, the action may have given the U.S. leverage in trade negotiations.

ZTE's current struggles have made it the most visible effect thus far of a brewing trade war between the United States and China.

Several U.S. intelligence agencies have warned against buying ZTE and Huawei phones.

Given ZTE's operations are now mostly suspended and not bringing in revenue for the company, whatever negotiations take place in the next two weeks are of vital importance in determining the company's future. It's also the fourth largest provider of smartphones in the United States.

The US government launched an investigation into ZTE after Reuters reported in 2012 the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars' worth of hardware and software from some of the best known US technology companies to Iran.

Experts said Trump's policy reversal was unprecedented.

Trump's announcement drew sharp criticism from a Democratic lawmaker, who said the move was jeopardizing US national security. "You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs", Schiff said in a tweet directed at Trump.

ZTE denies it violated the deal and is appealing the export ban.


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