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President Trump announced in a tweet on Sunday that he will work with China's president Xi Jinping to help a Chinese tech firm, ZTE, which has admitted to selling restricted USA technology to Iran and North Korea, and which US intelligence officials have warned may pose an espionage risk.

ZTE announced last week that its major operations had "ceased" following the imposition of a ban by the Trump administration of American sales of critical technology to the company, raising the possibility of its collapse.

United States officials accused ZTE of filing false reports about illegal exports of communications devices to Iran and North Korea.

Then, of course, the President is involved in an aggressive trade dispute with China, which, on the USA side, included tariffs on about $60 billion of Chinese goods, the bulk of which were focused on the high-tech industry.

In a second tweet on Sunday, Trump said past US trade talks with China posed a hurdle that he predicted the two countries would overcome.

Given that USA sanctions were imposed on ZTE due to threats to national security and its violation of trade sanctions with Iran and North Korea, Trump's desire to give the company another chance in the U.S.is truly unexpected.

The impact of the sanctions was swift and nasty: a shutdown of ZTE's assembly lines and the possible loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs at the Chinese company.

President Trump said Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working to put the troubled Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE back in business. "But be cool, it will all work out!"

"If evidence now exists to implicate ZTE, we believe it is appropriate for Commerce to take immediate action", the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was addressed to secretaries of President Barack Obama's Treasury, Commerce and State departments.

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In March, a furious Beijing lashed out at Mr Trump's decision to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on China, warning a trade war is the last thing the world wants.

"We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing a company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks."

ZTE's fiber-optic networks depend on U.S. components and its cheap smartphones sold en masse overseas are powered by USA chips and the Android operating system.

In April, he said: "For many years, no president wanted to go against China economically, and we're going to do it". Experts have since said the company could be circling the drain.

"This is a fascinating development in a highly unusual case that has gone from a sanctions and export control case to a geopolitical one", said Washington lawyer Douglas Jacobson, who represents some of ZTE's suppliers.

Which brings us back to Trump.

"Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat", said Adam Schiff, who is the senior opposition Democratic Congressman on the House Intelligence Committee. "You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs". Lumentum Holdings and Acacia Communications Inc. sold key optical equipment.

FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018.

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


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