(Adds comments from Trump, lawyer, White House, lawmakers)
WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to revisit penalties for Chinese company ZTE Corp for flouting U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran, saying the telecom maker is a big buyer for U.S. suppliers.
The U.S. Commerce Department is exploring options besides a supplier ban to punish ZTE , Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday. The review came after Trump pledged in a tweet to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ZTE, saying too many jobs in China had been lost.
The company shut its main operations after the Commerce Department banned U.S. companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years after it violated the terms of a settlement deal for illegally shipped goods made with U.S. parts to Iran and North Korea.
Trump, a frequent critic of China, faced backlash from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who were shocked by his move.
"ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi," Trump said on Monday.
ZTE declined comment on Monday. Ross did not provide details about options under consideration.
"ZTE did do some inappropriate things ... the question is are there alternative remedies to the ones we had originally put forward and that's the area we will be exploring very, very promptly," Ross told journalists at the National Press Club in Washington.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, David Lawder, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Roberta Rampton, Steve Holland, John Walcott, David Shepardson; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)