When US President Donald Trump talks about saving jobs, it is usually American jobs he is making promises about.
But in a surprise move, Mr Trump has said he wants to help Chinese telecoms company ZTE Corp get “back into business”, as too many jobs in China are at risk.
As US officials prepared for talks in Washington with China this week, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “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!”
His words come just over a month after the US Commerce Department blocked ZTE from importing US components for its products for seven years.
The case goes back to before Mr Trump took office.
Image: ZTE says it has stopped its main operations
In 2012, ZTE was caught illegally shipping hardware and software from the US to Iran and North Korea – a violation of sanctions and an offence that was settled last year.
As part of this, they also entered into an agreement with the US government.
But the US says the Chinese firm breached that agreement, resulting in the current ban, which came as tensions increased between the US and China on trade.
The ban left ZTE’s production in trouble, with the company saying this month that it had stopped its main operations as a result.
It relies on US microchips and other components for 25-30% of the equipment it produces.
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
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters confirmed US officials were in talks with China about the company, saying that Mr Trump expects Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “to exercise his independent judgement, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts”.
In a second tweet on Sunday, Mr Trump said: “China and the United States are working well together on trade, but past negotiations have been so one sided in favor of China, for so many years, that it is hard for them to make a deal that benefits both countries.
“But be cool, it will all work out!”
Washington lawyer Douglas Jacobson, who represents some of ZTE’s suppliers, said: “This is a fascinating development in a highly unusual case that has gone from a sanctions and export control case to a geopolitical one.”
But Democratic lawmaker Adam Schiff cautioned against being too soft on the company, saying on Twitter: “Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat.
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“You (Trump) should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs.”
ZTE employs 75,000 people and says it has business in more than 160 countries.