Chinese envoy warns of possible retaliation

BRUSSELS • China could retaliate against the US after President Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei Technologies, according to Mr Zhang Ming, the Chinese ambassador to the European Union.

Mr Trump upped the ante in his trade dispute with China last week, announcing moves to curb Huawei's business that are starting to have ramifications for other companies around the world.

"This is wrong behaviour, so there will be a necessary response," Mr Zhang said in an interview on Monday. "Chinese companies' legitimate rights and interests are being undermined, so the Chinese government will not sit idly by." He called the Trump administration's moves to blacklist Huawei "politically motivated".

Washington's actions come as it seeks to pressure Beijing into agreeing to a wide-ranging trade deal. "The United States has been repeatedly creating troubles to the consultation, undermining the positive momentum formed in the process of hard and tough negotiations and seeking illegitimate gains through bullying and blackmail," Mr Zhang said.

President Xi Jinping's visit to a rare earths facility has fuelled speculation that the strategic materials could be used as countermeasures in the Sino-US trade spat.

Shares in JL MAG Rare-Earth surged by their daily limit on Monday after China's official news agency Xinhua said Mr Xi had stopped by the company in Jiangxi province, accompanied by Vice-Premier Liu He, who has led the Chinese side in the trade talks.

The US relies on China, the dominant global supplier, for about 80 per cent of its rare earths imports.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese envoy warns of possible retaliation'. Print Edition | Subscribe