ZTE is to slash its global workforce by around 5 per cent, including a 20 per cent reduction in the company’s handset department in China, Reuters reported.

A number of unnamed sources discussed the severity of the reductions, which are estimated to total around 3,000 jobs spread across its operations within China and overseas.

One executive said their department received a set quota alongside a list of employees – described by the company as “unstable factors” – who had applied for jobs at rival Huawei and must be among the cuts.

If the job losses, scheduled for Q1, go ahead the company will lose around 5 percent of its 60,000-strong global workforce. ZTE did not comment.

The news comes as ZTE continues to fight proposed US sanctions which, if applied, will prevent any US companies doing business with the Chinese manufacturer, damaging the company’s existing supply chain.

In a new year speech to employees, Chairman Zhao Xianming reportedly said the company had “encountered its biggest crisis in its 31 year history” and in 2017 “businesses that don’t fit our strategic direction or with low output performance will be shut, suspended, merged or reconfigured, improving the company’s core competitiveness”.