Beijing — ZTE, the Chinese telecom company that’s become a focal point of the nation’s trade dispute with the US, has replaced one of its most powerful executives in a move that may signal efforts to placate American demands. Tian Dongfang, a ZTE non-executive director who’s also chief of a think-tank under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, has already assumed the role of party secretary, people familiar with matter said, asking not to be named talking about internal decisions. He replaces Fan Qingfeng in a position that’s considered the ultimate responsibility in an era when Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the Communist Party to lead in all things. China is trying to convince the US to lift a seven-year ban on ZTE’s purchases of vital American technology, imposed in April for breaching terms of a settlement over sanction-breaking sales to Iran. US President Donald Trump said last week that the US would allow ZTE to resume business — provided it pay...

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