Thu | Jul 18, 2019

China rejects threats, tariffs ahead of G20 meeting

Published:Friday | June 21, 2019 | 12:34 AM

China warned Thursday that threats and tariffs will not resolve trade tensions between the two biggest economies and blasted Republican Senator Marco Rubio for his criticism of technology giant Huawei over patents.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that its “core concern” over mutual respect has to be properly accommodated.

“If the US insists on taking unilateral trade measures against China, it will definitely bring serious impacts on the economy of itself and the welfare of its people,” Gao said in a routine briefing.

Trump and Xi are due to meet at a summit of the Group of 20 on June 28-29. It’s unclear when the two countries’ negotiating teams will resume detailed talks, which stalled in May when the US accused China of reneging on earlier commitments.

The talks are aimed at ending the dispute over trade and technology that has resulted in Trump imposing 25 per cent tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese exports and considering expanding those tariffs to include another US$300 billion of Chinese products.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Huawei is asking US phone carrier Verizon to pay licensing fees for more than 200 of its patents. While Huawei declined to comment on the matter, company spokesman Joe Kelly said it will hold a briefing later this month on being more aggressive about collecting intellectual property licensing fees.

Rubio filed an amendment to the US defence authorisation bill this week that would prevent Huawei Technologies and other companies on security watch lists from pursuing damages in US patent courts. That followed a move by Huawei to seek US$1 billion in damages it says it is owed in unpaid patent licensing fees, reports said.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman described Rubio’s effort to block Huawei’s lawsuit as “bizarre.”

“We know that someone in the US leaves no stone unturned to smear and suppress other countries’ enterprises, yet we did not expect that they would so blatantly manipulate the laws and rules,” said the spokesman, Lu Kang.

“This not only damages the reputation and image of the US but also harms its own companies in the long run.”

The US has accused Chinese companies such as Huawei of committing forced technology transfers and stealing trade secrets. Last month, the US placed Huawei on its ‘Entity List’, which effectively bars American companies from selling components to Huawei without government approval.

Washington claims Huawei poses a national security threat because it may be beholden to China’s ruling Communist Party. But American officials have presented no evidence of any Huawei equipment serving as intentional conduits for espionage by Beijing. Huawei’s placement on the Entity List is widely seen as intended to persuade resistant US allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has denied that Huawei would share user data with the Chinese government if ordered to do so.

On Monday, during a panel discussion opened to the media, he said there are no back doors in Huawei’s equipment that anyone could access, and that Huawei is willing to enter into a “no-back door” agreement with any nation that wants one.

Huawei brought a lawsuit in the US this March challenging the constitutionality of a national security law which prevents the US government and its contractors from using Huawei equipment. The complaint, filed in Plano, Texas, where Huawei’s American operations are headquartered, alleges that the law singles out Huawei for punishment, while denying the company due process.

Ren said during the panel discussion that Huawei will not use its many patents as a “weapon”, but did not rule out seeking royalties for their usage.

– AP