China urges US to negotiate on equal footing in trade dispute

Left: Huawei Technologies' booth at the Viva Technology conference in Paris last Thursday. Its founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei (above) said the growth of the Chinese tech giant "may slow, but only slightly" due to the US restrictions.
Huawei Technologies' booth at the Viva Technology conference in Paris last Thursday. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Left: Huawei Technologies' booth at the Viva Technology conference in Paris last Thursday. Its founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei (above) said the growth of the Chinese tech giant "may slow, but only slightly" due to the US restrictions.
Its founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei (above) said the growth of the Chinese tech giant "may slow, but only slightly" due to the US restrictions.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Beijing willing to resolve economic issues through talks but must safeguard its legitimate interests, says minister

BEIJING/SHENZHEN • Negotiating on an equal footing is the only way to solve pressing trade issues, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement.

Mr Wang said the United States has recently harmed China's interests through various words and actions, including by what he said was containing normal business operations of China firms by political means, according to a readout of the call posted on the ministry website.

The US State Department acknowledged the call in a one-sentence statement: "They discussed elements of the bilateral relationship, including US concerns about Iran."

The more detailed Chinese readout also said Mr Wang pointed out that China is willing to resolve economic and trade disputes through negotiations, but that China must safeguard its legitimate interests and defend "basic norms of international relations". He also told Mr Pompeo that the US should abide by the one-China policy with regard to the status of Taiwan.

The Wang-Pompeo call came days after President Donald Trump, citing national security concerns, signed an executive order that could effectively ban Huawei Technologies and Chinese sister firm ZTE from the US market. The Department of Commerce also said it had put Huawei on a blacklist that could forbid it from doing business with American companies.

The pair of actions risks aggravating Beijing as Mr Trump attempts to pressure China's leaders into agreeing to a wide-ranging trade deal. Mr Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on almost all imports from the world's No. 2 economy after last week increasing duties on some US$200 billion (S$276 billion) worth of Chinese products from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. No talks between the parties are scheduled at the moment.

Huawei Technologies' founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said on Saturday that the growth of the Chinese tech giant "may slow, but only slightly" due to the US restrictions. In remarks to the Japanese press and reported by Nikkei Asian Review, he reiterated that the Chinese telecom equipment maker has not violated any law. The US has said that Huawei's smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans.

 
 
 

"It is expected that Huawei's growth may slow, but only slightly," Mr Ren told Japanese media in his first official comments after the US restrictions, adding that the company's annual revenue growth may undershoot 20 per cent.

Mr Ren said the firm was prepared for such a step and Huawei would be fine even if US smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm and other US suppliers do not sell chips to the firm.

Huawei's chip arm HiSilicon said last Friday it has long been prepared for the scenario that it could be banned from buying US chips and technology, and is able to ensure steady supply of most products.

Mr Ren said Huawei will not be taking instructions from the US government. "We will not change our management at the request of the US or accept monitoring, as ZTE has done," he said.

In January, US prosecutors unsealed an indictment accusing the Chinese company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed US goods and services in Iran and to move money out of the country via the international banking system.

Mr Ren's daughter, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December in connection with the indictment. Meng, who was released on bail, remains in Vancouver and is fighting extradition. She has maintained her innocence. Mr Ren has previously said that his daughter's arrest was politically motivated.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'China urges US to negotiate on equal footing in trade dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe