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In trade talks in Beijing this month, China asked the United States to ease crushing sanctions on ZTE, one of the world's largest telecom equipment makers, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Commerce Department recently barred ZTE from using US-made parts, effectively crippling its operations and leading to a shutdown of its factories.

USA officials imposed the seven-year ban last month after ZTE allegedly made false statements regarding its settlement of a case involving the illegal sale of goods to Iran and North Korea. The US Commerce Department did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment Sunday. As a result, ZTE suspended its main operating activities earlier this month.

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

"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast", Trump tweeted.

Unlike many other Chinese smartphone makers, ZTE's Android phones are also popular in the U.S, thanks to low-priced phones and savvy marketing ploys (the company's sponsored five National Basketball Association teams, including the Golden State Warriors). ZTE has denied the charges, but the accusation nevertheless led to some major carriers dropping the manufacturer (Chinese company Huawei has been hit with similar claims too).

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As one of the world's largest telecom equipment makers, ZTE relied on USA companies for components.

ZTE suppliers including Acacia, Oclaro, Lumentum Holdings Inc, Finisar Corp, Inphi Corp and Fabrinet, all fell sharply after the ban was announced.

Since ZTE relies on components manufactured in America, the export ban was likely to have a devastating effect on the company.

Count President Donald Trump as one of Chinese phone maker ZTE's new allies. ZTE provides services for 100 million users in India, 300 million users in Indonesia, and 29 million users in Italy, the official said. 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.

The official said the recent ban was a grossly disproportionate penalty that ignored the strides ZTE had made towards complying with USA laws.

Trumps tweet comes just days before US officials are planning to meet with Liu He, one of Chinese President Xi Jinpings closest advisers, to discuss the strained trade ties.


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