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ZTE's production is back on track after lifting of US ban, execs say

The Chinese telecom company seems to have recovered.

Sign on a door to ZTE's research institute in Tianjin Binhai New Area

Things are looking up for China's ZTE.

Zhang Peng

ZTE has recovered from its US ban, with production back to normal and the expectation that it'll be on its standard growth track in 2019, according to its new chairman and chief executive.

"As of today, the main operating business has resumed completely. The production mission for August has resumed to normal and R&D is resuming rapidly," Chairman Li Zixue told shareholders on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The Chinese telecom giant's new CEO, Xu Ziyang, noted that its network operating business should follow a normal growth path next year and that it plans to increase research and development for components like chips.

"We can definitely say the company is still in the front line in the communications industry," he said at the meeting, Reuters reported. "Our orders have been great and are in line with that of July and August last year."

ZTE didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company, which is the fourth-largest smartphone maker in the US, was hit in April with a Commerce Department denial order that prevented American businesses from dealing with company.

It was the result of a government determination that ZTE violated terms of a 2017 settlement by failing to fire employees involved with illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea. The seven-year ban forced ZTE to shut down its "major operating activities," effectively leaving it crippled.

This changed when President Donald Trump got involved by tweeting that he wanted the Commerce Department to work with ZTE on getting the ban lifted. His tweet was slammed by members of Congress from both parties, but Trump said that ZTE "buys a big percentage of individual parts from US companies," adding that the telecom giant's fate reflects the US relationship with China.

Trump ultimately signed a $716 billion defense policy bill that weakened efforts to punish ZTE.

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