President Trump working to get ZTE back into business

A salesperson stands at counters selling mobile phones produced by ZTE Corp. at an appliance store in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province in a file

"Major operating activities of the company have ceased" as a result of the United States decision, it said in a filing Wednesday.

Beijing has closely followed the developments around ZTE, a company with 80,000 employees headquartered in southern China.

Ordering a denial may have been the Commerce Department's idea of playing hardball to force compliance. ZTE was banned from using US -based hardware or software because the USA government felt it did not follow through on a court ruling that said the company needed to pay a hefty fine, fire several key executives, and admonish 32 employees - a charge ZTE denies.

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.

According to the U.S. Government, the step was taken because the company had failed to comply with a settlement related to ZTE shipping U.S. -made goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

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Meanwhile, ZTE, which relies on US firms for key smartphone components, including microchips from Qualcomm and glass from Corning, has said the USA export ban is a massive disruption to its business and ZTE Chairman Yin Yimin called it unfair and unacceptable.

Reports suggested that the Chinese government was working on ZTE's half to find a compromise, and it looks like Chinese Premier Xi Jinping himself got in touch with the U.S. President, who said today in a tweet that is he "working... to give..." The order was causing "irreparable harm" to the company and partners, as well as millions of consumers, including those who own its phones and major network operators, the person said.

None of the other companies could immediately be reached for comment. Last week, Telstra said it would stop sales of ZTE smartphones, though it indicated it was "hopeful that ZTE will be able to reach a resolution to this matter soon so that we can recommence selling Telstra-branded ZTE devices". The company's R&D expenditure past year stood at 12.96 billion yuan, which accounted for about 11.9 percent of the company's operating revenue.

ZTE has asked the department to suspend the seven-year ban on doing business with U.S. technology exporters.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to resume trade talks with the Trump administration this week, after discussions in Beijing last week yielded no agreement on a long list of United States trade demands.

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