China says committed to trade deal, calls move against Huawei unusual

China's Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai described the action by the US against Huawei as an "unusual" move that mobilises "state power against a private company". PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Beijing remains committed to striking a trade deal with the US, but it is ready to respond with more countermeasures if needed, said China's Ambassador to the US, Mr Cui Tiankai, as he accused the Trump administration of often changing its position in the talks.

Mr Cui said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday (May 24) that China wants to continue working toward an agreement for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to finalise.

There are no official discussions about a meeting between the two leaders, he said.

The trade talks "have to be based on mutual respect and aim for mutual benefit. It has to be a balanced approach", Mr Cui said, adding that China will do whatever is necessary to protect its national interests.

Trade talks between Beijing and Washington stalled this month as Mr Trump accused China of backing out of a deal that the US said was almost completed.

In response, Mr Trump hiked the tariff rate on US$200 billion (S$275.8 billion) in Chinese imports.

The US also released a list of about US$300 billion in Chinese goods that could face additional tariffs, including clothing, toys and mobile phones.

If Mr Trump follows through on that threat, US levies imposed since last year would cover essentially all imports from the Asian nation.

Mr Cui on Friday blamed the US for walking back from its commitments in the negotiations.

Previous deals reached between the US and China, like one that was agreed to in May 2018, were rejected by the Trump administration "overnight", he said.

There are signs the trade conflict is spilling over into other areas, especially technology.

The Trump administration this month placed Huawei Technologies on an export blacklist, choking off China's biggest technology company from its US suppliers.

Mr Cui said the accusations against Huawei are a "groundless suspicion".

He described the action by the US against Huawei as an "unusual" move that mobilises "state power against a private company".

"What are people really up to under the pretext of national security? We don't know," said Mr Cui.

"Can they really stop the technological progress? Can they really deprive people of the right to benefit from the technologies? I don't think so. And do they really have the interests of the American people in mind? I don't think so either."

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