President Trump has proposed a company-saving deal for ZTE - but one that the company's management nevertheless might not like, and which could be blocked by Congress.
The deal would un-do the the seven-year ban on US companies trading with ZTE, implemented in April after the company violated the terms of an earlier settlement for busting United Nations sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
The ban is a big issue for ZTE, which sources most of its most important parts from US companies, and its stocks have already pretty much run out - putting the future of the company at risk.
The US government has also made veiled references to the company's technology potentially facilitating spying by the Chinese government.
The company has ceased operations worldwide while it tries to sort out the self-inflicted mess.
President Trump has already suggested that there is a deal to be done, but it could still be punishing for ZTE.
The latest word is that Trump wants a complete management overhaul at ZTE and a $1.3bn ‘fine' paid to lift the restrictions, which bar the company from buying parts made by US companies.
However, Congress appears to be united against Trump on this, with both sides of the house wanting to see the ZTE ban remain in place.
In return for allowing ZTE to live, the US government would back down on tariffs regarding agriculture and expect China to buy more milk, meat and other stuff from US producers. It has led some Senators to question whether Trump is trading national security for butter.
In some respects, ZTE has been caught in the crossfire of rising trade tension between the US and China, while the US is also pushing for China to take a harder line on its close ally North Korea.
Trump has already met President Xi of China for trade talks but has been characteristically unsatisfied with the results.
Meanwhile, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to stop Trump reversing the sanctions unilaterally.
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