BEIJING: China strongly opposes other countries imposing unilateral sanctions on Chinese entities, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said on Thursday (May 16) in response to the latest US restrictions on telecom giant Huawei Technologies.
The United States should avoid further impacting Sino-US trade relations, spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a weekly briefing.
The US Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it was adding Huawei Technologies and 70 affiliates to its so-called "Entity List" in a move that bans the Chinese telecommunications giant from acquiring components and technology from US firms without prior US government approval.
President Donald Trump separately on Wednesday signed an executive order barring US 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 US officials have previously labeled Huawei a "threat" and lobbied allies not to use Huawei network equipment in next-generation 5G networks.
"China has emphasized 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 US 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 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."
The crackdown on Huawei came as US 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 US trade delegation to visit China at present.
As negotiations toward resolving the US-China trade war stalled last week, the United States ramped up the pressure by raising tariffs on a list of US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.
China retaliated with higher tariffs on a revised list of US$60 billion worth of US products.
Trump has threatened to launch 25 per cent tariffs on another US$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.