Reprieve for ZTE in new China-US trade twist 

Reprieve for ZTE in new China-US trade twist 

14/05/18

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

With US-China trade talks set to resume in Washington this week, US President Donald Trump has instructed the Commerce Department to reverse punitive measures against one of China’s biggest electrical firms.

ZTE suspended its main operations after the US Commerce Department banned American companies from selling to the firm for seven years as punishment for ZTE breaking an agreement reached after it was caught illegally shipping US goods to Iran, Reuters reports.

However, on Sunday President Trump tweeted that he was working with President Xi “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!”

The surprise announcement could be aimed as an early concession or good will gesture to Beijing ahead of talks with Chinese Premiere Liu He, set to take place in Washington this week.

According to the BBC, the ‘tone of the tweet is a dramatic shift for Mr Trump, who has consistently accused China of stealing US jobs.’

The development – which seems a considerable distance from Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, reflects a trend of uncertainty and unpredictability that the current White House administration appears to be cultivating. However, analysts suggest the reversal on ZTE should improve relations between Washington and Beijing ahead of this week’s talks, which aim to avoid a damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The Chinese Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, will be speaking at Asia House on the prospect of a US-China trade war on 21 May. Details here.