China hits back at US telecom supply chain order at World Trade Organisation

WTO

China has accused the US of undermining the global tech industry’s supply chains with a renewed executive order barring American companies from using telecoms equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.

KEY POINTS:

  • China accuses the US of undermining supply chains at the WTO on Thursday
  • Officials from China denounced the US move during closed door multilateral talks at the body’s headquarters in Geneva
  • Washington is trying to convince allies to exclude China’s Huawei Technologies from infrastructure on grounds that it could be used by China for spying
  • Last month, the US administration moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei from chipmakers

Jiankai Jin, a diplomat at China’s mission to the World Trade Organisation, denounced the US move during closed door multilateral talks at the body’s headquarters in Geneva.

“We would also like to know how the US will ensure measures taken under this Executive Order will not abuse the WTO national security exception and be consistent with WTO rules,” Jin said, according to a transcript reviewed by the news agency Reuters.

He did not indicate whether China would launch a formal dispute.

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The American delegation said Thursday’s meeting of the WTO’s Goods Council was not the appropriate forum to discuss national security issues, a Geneva-based trade official said.

Last month, President Trump extended for another year an executive order signed in May 2019 declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecoms equipment made by firms posing a national security risk.

US lawmakers said Trump’s order was aimed squarely at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE Corp.

Washington is also trying to convince allies to exclude Huawei from phone networks on grounds its equipment could be used by China for spying, which Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, has repeatedly denied.

Jin said: “The global ICT industry, including US companies, is worried about the vague and broad wording of the above Executive Order and implementation rules.”

“Unfortunately, at the time of crisis, the US continued to restrict legitimate competition and interfere with the global ICT industry, which would undermine the stability of the global supply chain and cause huge losses to related ICT companies in many countries,” Jin added.

The United States last month moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei from global chipmakers.

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Initial reporting via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay.

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