Trump earlier in the day said he is helping China's President Xi Jinping put telecommunications maker ZTE "back into business".
Then in February, the heads of every USA intelligence agency warned Congress that ZTE and the bigger Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, should not be trusted, since they may be forced to use their technology to spy on Americans by China's government.
Chinese technology company ZTE Corp, which this month suspended its main operations after a U.S. Commerce Department ban on American supplies to its business, paid over $2.3 billion to 211 U.S. exporters in 2017, a senior ZTE official said on Friday.
The department said Sunday that it had no comment.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters confirmed that US officials are in contact with Beijing about ZTE.
"ZTE misled the Department of Commerce", Ross said.
Trump's unexpected announcement came as the two countries prepared to continue trade talks in Washington this week.
The official said the recent ban was a grossly disproportionate penalty that ignored the strides ZTE had made towards complying with US laws.
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. "But be cool, it will all work out!" "Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"More news: Salmonella outbreak sickens people following multi-state egg recall
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ZTE paid over $2.3 billion to 211 US exporters in 2017, a senior ZTE official said on Friday.
Since ZTE relies on components manufactured in America, the export ban was likely to have a devastating effect on the company.
The US accused ZTE of misleading American regulators after it settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran. FBI Director Christopher Wray said intelligence officials are "deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any 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 United States components and its cheap smartphones sold en masse overseas are powered by U.S. chips and the Android operating system.
But the company's run into problems in the U.S in recent years. According to IDC data, ZTE sources more than 40 percent of its components from the US, creating a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for suppliers like Qualcomm and Intel.
Trump's offer to help comes as Chinese and USA officials prepare for talks in Washington with China's top trade official Liu He to resolve an escalating trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. "They are not simply going to be able to resume business as usual". And he has trumpeted his efforts to safeguard U.S.jobs even if it means creating economic strain in other countries.
"As a result of the Denial Order, major operating activities have ceased", the company said in a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing.
"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.
The threat of extinction for ZTE was realistic as it seemed the US was gaining the upper hand in the apparent US/China trade war, but President Trump might prove to be an unlikely hero for ZTE.