President Donald Trump said Wednesday his reversal on Chinese company ZTE only relates to a "larger trade deal" his administration seeks with Beijing.
Top Trump administration officials such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had tried to separate the president's push to boost the telecommunications company from trade talks with China. Ross this week called it an "enforcement" issue, not a trade dispute.
Trump's public statements have muddled that message.
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, the president said "there has been no folding" on his pledges to crack down on Chinese trade practices. He said high-level meetings on the U.S.-China trade relationship "haven't even started yet."
Trump also argued that the U.S. "has very little to give" in talks "because it has given so much over the years." He added: "China has much to give!"