Only weeks after the Trump Administration's Commerce Department accused ZTE of violating the terms of a settlement agreement and hit it with an export sanction, the President now says Commerce has been directed to help the Chinese telecom tech company.
Four weeks ago Commerce Department officials said ZTE has violated the terms of its settlement agreement with the U.S. over illegally shipping telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea and that U.S. companies would be be prohibited from exporting technology to ZTE that was then being incorporated in their products for re-export to Iran and North Korea.
“ZTE made false statements to the U.S. Government when they were originally caught and put on the Entity List, made false statements during the reprieve it was given, and made false statements again during its probation,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross of the export restriction.
ZTE has been a major target of congressional concerns about supply chain integrity and threats to national security from foreign tech in
But in a tweet Sunday (May 13), President Trump signaled the company was getting help from the U.S. and that he was working with the head of the Chinese government to save Chinese jobs.
That also comes as the President is arranging to meet with the leader of North Korea.
Asked at the daily briefing about punishing ZTE then trying to help it, a White House spokesperson Raj Shah said that it was "obviously part of a very complex relationship between the United States and China that involves economic issues, national security issues and the like. So, the President has raised the issue with [Commerce] Secretary [Wilbur] Ross consistent with applicable laws and regulations."
The issue was raised by the Chinese at various levels, said Shah, when asked why the President had tweeted support for a Chinese company. He added that there was give and take in "their bilateral relationship."
Look for the ZTE issue to be a prominent subject of Wednesday's (May 16) hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee on supply chain security.