China has called out the US government’s decision to put telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist, voicing an intention to take the necessary protective measures, with the comments coming amid a new twist in the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
“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, adding that the Southeast Asian country “will take all the necessary measures to resolutely safeguard” Chinese firms’ “legitimate rights”.
The US Department of Commerce has placed Chinese tech maker Huawei, along with 70 affiliates, on a trade blacklist, with the move banning the Chinese firms from acquiring technology or components from American firms without the US government's consent.
There was also a separate executive order signed by Trump that bans US firms from using telecom equipment made by companies "deemed to pose a national security risk".
The US Commerce Department noted Wednesday that it has reasons to believe that “Huawei is engaged in activities” that go against American national security, with US intelligence having previously accused the company of installing “backdoor” access in its devices upon the Chinese government’s directives – a feature that would make it possible for them to spy on users, thereby putting their personal data in jeopardy. However, Beijing and Huawei have both denied that such a directive exists.
Earlier in the day, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asserted that President Trump “is acting once again to protect US national security”.
“This Executive Order addresses the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the nation's information and communications technology and services supply chain", Ross said adding:
"Under President Trump's leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure".
Huawei struck back, saying that it was “ready and willing to engage with the US government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security”.
The firm's vice president for Western Europe noted on Tuesday that Huawei is a private company that is not controlled by the Chinese government and would refuse to hand over information to Beijing, adding that no request to this end has ever been made. Chairman of Huawei's Board of Directors Liang Hua also stated that the company intends to sign so-called "no-spy" agreements with other governments, including that of the UK.
According to UK-based Huawei representative Nigel Jefferies, putting constraints on Huawei’s supply chain would not only directly affect the company itself and its ambitions to roll out, for instance, top-notch 5G technologies, but would also “limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers”.
China has meanwhile repeatedly voiced its indignation over Canada’s arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in December. Meng faces extradition to the United States on charges that she conspired to steal commercial information for a company operating in Iran, in breach of the US sanctions. Huawei has ascertained, however, that Meng has done nothing illegal.
The developments come against the backdrop of a few new twists in the Washington-Beijing trade spat, with the sides having recently engaged in a new round of tariffs on imported goods.