China says US damaging global trade with Huawei sanctions

BEIJING (AP) — China accused Washington of damaging global trade with sanctions that threaten to cripple tech giant Huawei and said on Tuesday it will protect Chinese companies but gave no indication of possible retaliation.

Rules confirmed on Monday by the Commerce Department block suppliers from using United States (US) technology to produce processor chips and other components for Huawei. The company, China’s first global tech competitor, is the biggest supplier of switching equipment for phone companies and a leading smartphone brand.

The Foreign Ministry demanded the Trump administration “stop suppressing Chinese companies”. Huawei Technologies Ltd is at the centre of a worsening row between Washington and Beijing over technology and security.

US officials said Huawei is a security risk, which the company denies, and are lobbying European and other allies to avoid its technology as they upgrade to next-generation networks.

The conflict has spread to include Chinese-owned short video app TikTok and messaging service WeChat, which the US government has declared security risks that might give personal information about American users to Chinese authorities. The Trump administration is pressing TikTok’s owner to sell it and has ordered American companies to stop dealing with WeChat.

The US is “violating international trade rules, and undermining the global industrial chain, supply chain, and value chain,” said a ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Beijing will “take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” Zhao said.

Huawei declined to comment on the latest US action.

A man uses his smartphone as he stands near a billboard for Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing. PHOTO: AP