BEIJING (Reuters) – China strongly opposes other countries imposing unilateral sanctions on Chinese entities, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said on Thursday in response to the latest U.S. restrictions on telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co.
The United States should avoid further impacting Sino-U.S. trade relations, spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a weekly briefing.
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it was adding Huawei Technologies Co and 70 affiliates to its so-called “Entity List” in a move that bans the Chinese telecommunications giant from acquiring components and technology from U.S. firms without prior U.S. government approval.
President Donald Trump separately on Wednesday signed an executive order barring U.S. firms from using telecom equipment made by companies deemed to pose a national security risk.
The order did not specifically identify any country or company, but U.S. officials have previously labelled Huawei a “threat” and lobbied allies not to use Huawei network equipment in next-generation 5G networks.
“China has emphasised many times that the concept of national security should not be abused, and that it should not be used as a tool for trade protectionism,” Gao said.
“China will take all the necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese firms.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Trump backed the decision to “prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”
In response, Huawei, which denies its products pose a security threat, said it was “ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security.”
It said restricting Huawei from doing business in the United States would “limit the U.S. to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the U.S. lagging behind in 5G deployment and eventually harming the interests of U.S. companies and consumers.”
The crackdown on Huawei came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would visit China soon for more trade talks.
The outlook for further negotiations had been thrown into doubt after the world’s two biggest economies increased tariffs on each other’s goods in the past week.
Trump softened his trade rhetoric on Tuesday and insisted talks had not collapsed. He has also announced plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan late next month.
Gao, when asked if Trump and Xi must meet to resolve the trade dispute, said that was not true.
But he added that he had no information on any plans for a U.S. trade delegation to visit China at present.
As negotiations towards resolving the U.S.-China trade war stalled last week, the United States ramped up the pressure by raising tariffs on a list of $200 billion (156 billion pounds) worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%.
China retaliated with higher tariffs on a revised list of $60 billion worth of U.S. products.
Trump has threatened to launch 25% tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
China has said it would not bow to pressure, and that the United States should not underestimate its resolve to safeguard its interests.
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