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(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Beijing threatens sweeping blacklist of global firms after Huawei ban

  • China plans to list foreign entities that disobey market rules, violate contracts, damage interests of its firms
  • The US has moved to curb Huawei’s ability to sell equipment in the US and buy parts from American suppliers

China said it will establish a list of so-called ‘unreliable’ entities it says damage the interests of domestic companies, a sweeping order that could potentially affect thousands of foreign firms as tensions escalate after the US blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co.

China will set up a mechanism listing foreign enterprises, organizations and individuals that don’t obey market rules, violate contracts and block, cut off supply for non-commercial reasons or severely damage the legitimate interests of Chinese companies, ministry of commerce spokesman Gao Feng said. Necessary measures will be taken against those on the list, he said, adding that specifics would be released soon.

The US has moved to curb Huawei’s ability to sell equipment in the US and buy parts from American suppliers, potentially crippling one of China’s most successful—but controversial—global companies. That step has helped broaden the tariff war into a wider confrontation between China and the US, at a time when negotiations between the two sides have broken down.

The vague wording of the Chinese state media report opens the door for Beijing to target a broad swathe of the global tech industry -- from US giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. to even non-American suppliers that have cut off China’s largest technology company. Those run the gamut from Japan’s Toshiba to Britain’s Arm.

Shares in Apple Inc. slipped less than 1% while Qualcomm Inc. gained less than 1% and Intel Corp. was little changed in US trading Friday. U.S. stocks slumped as the Trump administration’s trade spats intensified.

“Surely companies that have announced cutting supplies to Huawei, such as Panasonic and Toshiba, would be under threat," said Michelle Lam, Greater China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “It could be very damaging to multinational firms.’’

The tariff conflict is set to ratchet up this weekend as the US locks down higher duties on about $200 billion of goods arriving from China and Beijing implements its own retaliation. Talks between the two sides stalled after US President Donald Trump accused China of backsliding on a deal and Chinese officials argued that the Americans raised their demands.

The list will also target companies that “pose a threat or potential threat to national security", the commerce ministry’s Gao said. China is setting up the list ‘to protect global economic and trade rules and the multilateral trading system, to oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, and to safeguard China’s national security, social and public interests,’ he said.

China said this week the next move in resolving trade talks must come from the US, as Trump said he’s in no hurry to make a deal. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet again at the end of June for the G-20 summit, though some analysts are pessimistic about a quick solution.

China’s blacklist threat “sends pressure to Washington as the ban (on Chinese firms) from the US side goes wider," said James Yan, a Counterpoint Research analyst. “China may pick a few ‘bad examples’ to punish, but it’s unlikely to hit everyone in the supply chain."

The US could also add more Chinese firms, including Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., to the list that bars them from US components, people familiar said earlier.

State media floated other potential retaliatory steps in recent days. Bloomberg reported Friday that Beijing has readied a plan to restrict exports of rare earths to the US if needed, according to people in the know. The steps would likely focus on materials where the US is reliant on China.

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