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President Donald Trump's administration is working on a deal with China that may entail lifting a ban on U.S. companies selling hardware and software to telecom giant ZTE, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Monday.
In exchange for Trump removing the ban, ZTE will make major changes in management, board seats and potentially pay fines, according to the Journal. Details of the agreement are still being worked out, it added.
Washington and Beijing are reportedly attempting to settle tensions after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American businesses from selling to Shenzhen-based ZTE for seven years. That penalty was widely expected to bankrupt the telecom heavyweight, which pleaded guilty in March to illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea in violation of American sanctions.
The news may raise concerns that the White House is using ZTE as a bargaining chip in its ongoing trade discussions with Beijing, but one of WSJ's sources said that was not the case.
The White House did not respond to CNBC's request for comment, which was sent outside office hours.