I feel like we’ve covered pretty extensively here the situation revolving around Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE and the crippling ban imposed by the U.S. government. As a quick recap, ZTE had a seven-year ban from buying American technology re-imposed earlier this month as a result of trade violations (they admitted to illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea) and other transgressions related to those violations.
Now, however, the U.S.’s attitude towards ZTE appears to have all of a sudden changed—and it has everything to do with the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. According to Engadget sources, the two countries have a “handshake deal” in place that will lift the ban that would have essentially put ZTE out of business.
That comes after President Trump tweeted earlier this month that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping were working to get ZTE back up and running. Trump’s reasoning, according to the tweet, was that too many jobs were lost as a result of the ban. But those sources for Engadget believe something else could be happening behind the scenes.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
ZTE, as it turns out, has become a pretty large bargaining chip for the U.S. in this ongoing trade war with China, according to those sources. And deal that ends up being reached to lift the ZTE ban, they said, would likely include China removing tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, along with a commitment to purchase more American farm goods.
After weeks of increasingly high tension between the world’s two largest economies, things have cooled off, relatively speaking, since that tweet. Though, White House advisors did confirm to Engadget that, whether or not the ban remains in place, ZTE would still face “harsh punishments” for its actions.
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