China policy round-up: Huawei banned from UK’s 5G network, Beijing sanctions Republican politicians, Trump strips HK of special status
In this round-up, the UK bars Huawei Technologies from its 5G mobile network, the Chinese foreign ministry retaliates against recent US sanctions, and Donald Trump signs an executive order that ends Hong Kong’s preferential trade treatment.
The UK has told its telecom companies not to buy equipment made by China’s Huawei from December 31. It has also ordered the full removal of all existing 5G equipment from the firm by 2027.
Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press conference that the UK is “politicising business and technology issues at any cost”. The country plans to take “all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests” of Chinese companies, she added.
The relationship between China and the US deteriorated rapidly this week.
William Barr, the US attorney general, warned in a Thursday speech that US companies “must understand the stakes” if they want to expand in China. Barr cited the examples of Walt Disney and Apple, saying they sacrificed democratic values to expand in the Chinese market.
A day earlier, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration is considering a travel ban on all Chinese Communist Party members and their families. The draft rule can also authorise the US government to revoke existing visas of these people and of those who are already in the country.
In a Tuesday interview, president Trump told CBS News he is “not interested” in trade talks with China.
“I'm not interested right now in talking to China,” Trump said. “We made a great trade deal. But as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn’t even dry, and they hit us with the plague.”
A Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) spokesperson said the implementation of the phase one Sino-US trade deal is well underway, as the year-on-year drop in US imports over the first half of 2020 was 1.8 percentage points lower than the decline of overall imports during the same period.
China recorded a trade surplus of Rmb328.94bn in June, or Rmb46.42bn in dollar terms. Exports grew 0.5% and imports 2.7%, versus consensus forecasts of negative 2% and negative 9%, respectively, in dollar terms.
The US state department will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese technology companies like Huawei, which “provide material support to regimes engaging in human-rights violations and abuses globally,” said secretary of state Mike Pompeo at a press briefing on Wednesday US time.
Huawei reportedly issued a statement saying it is disappointed by the “unfair and arbitrary” action.
Foreign ministry’s Hua announced China’s decision to sanction US senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, congressman Chris Smith, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback, as well as the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a government agency. She did specify what the sanctions would entail.
The announcement followed a similar move by the US last week to impose sanctions on four Chinese officials and a government agency on Xinjiang-related issues.
Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on Tuesday. The executive order effectively ends the city’s preferential trade treatment, which means the US will end its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and impose limits on exports of sensitive technology to the city.
“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” Trump said in a news briefing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
Responding to the news, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday firmly opposing the move.
“To safeguard its legitimate interests, the Chinese side will make necessary response to the wrong actions of the US side, including imposing sanctions on relevant US entities and individuals,” the statement said.