China on Thursday slammed a decision by the U.S. government to put telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist and said it will take steps to protect its companies, in a further test of ties as the superpowers clash over trade.
China strongly opposes other countries imposing unilateral sanctions on Chinese entities, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said, stressing that the United States should avoid further impacting Sino-U.S. trade relations.
The crackdown on Huawei came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would visit China soon for more trade discussions. Hopes for a deal to end a trade war were thrown into doubt after the world’s two biggest economies increased tariffs on each other’s goods in the past week.
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday it was adding Huawei Technologies Co and 70 affiliates to its so-called “Entity List” in a move that bans the Chinese company 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 Feng, spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, told reporters.
“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.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked if China had invited U.S. officials for more talks, said China always advocated resolving disputes through dialogue.
“Negotiations and consultations, to have meaning, must be sincere,” Lu told reporters at a separate daily briefing.
“First, there must be mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Second, one’s word must be kept, and not be capricious.”