As the United States and China spar over trade, both sides are using a beleagured Chinese telecom company as a pawn in a geopolitical game, a strategy that could yield concessions in talks this week in Washington.
Mr. Trump’s offer to throw a lifeline to the company, ZTE, found a receptive audience in Beijing on Monday, a development that could help him strike deals on thorny issues like trade and North Korea. Liu He, a Chinese vice premier, was due in Washington for negotiations beginning on Tuesday aimed at resolving the simmering trade conflict between the two countries. It was not clear whether the offer and the visit were connected, but Chinese officials welcomed Mr. Trump’s tweet on Sunday saying he would look for ways to help ZTE.
“We very much appreciate the positive attitude of the U.S. side to the issue of the ZTE Corporation, and are maintaining close communication with the U.S. on the implementation of specific details,” Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a daily briefing Monday afternoon.
Hu Xijin, the chief editor of Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party, used his widely followed account on the social media service Weibo to add, “No matter if the previous sanction was a card in Washington’s concerted move for a trade war on China, the newest decision is a good one.”