ZTE has reportedly reached an agreement in principle with the Trump administration to lift the Department of Commerce's ban on American companies selling equipment to the Chinese telecommunications giant.
For those unaware, Shenzhen-based ZTE violated sanctions placed on both Iran and North Korea by the U.S.
The decision amounted to a death sentence to ZTE, which relies on USA parts and which announced that it was halting operations. The move will allow the company to get back into the business. "#VeryBadDeal", Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said on Twitter after the administration's announcement.
Mr Ross emphasised that the agreement was separate from trade negotiations between the United States and China.
If you'll recall, last month ZTE was handed an export ban as the result of not following the terms of a court case years ago.
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ZTE's resuscitation with United States help has met strong resistance in Congress, where both Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans have accused him of bowing to pressure from Beijing to help a company that has been labelled a threat to U.S. national security.
Ross said the penalty is the largest the Commerce Department has ever levied.
Given ZTE's reliance on US-made parts, the sanctions effectively crippled the company and forced major operations to cease.
The Senate measure would restore penalties on ZTE for violating export controls and bar USA government agencies from purchasing or leasing equipment or services from ZTE or Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], another major Chinese firm.
In return, the U.S. will be suspending - but not removing - the USA technology export ban that has caused the company to grind to a halt to begin with.
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"The Chinese government. uses their telecommunications systems that they export around the world as means to create a backdoor so they can conduct economic and national security espionage", he told Texas reporters on a weekly call.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted the "deal with ZTE proves the president just shoots blanks". "The Chinese public was up in arms because they believed the US was destroying ZTE".
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.
David Dollar, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, said the ZTE deal was an unorthodox way to correct an overly harsh punishment.
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Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Steven Mollenkopf said on Thursday he hoped the ZTE agreement would pave the way for the NXP approval. Oclaro got 18% of its business from ZTE previous year, while 30% of Acacia's total revenue was from ZTE.