The US decision to add 33 Chinese entities to a trade blacklist risks potential retaliation from Beijing as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies deteriorate further.
The US department of commerce on Saturday expanded its so-called Entities List, which restricts access to American technology and other items, to include 24 Chinese companies and universities it said had ties to the military and another nine entities it accused of human rights violations in Xinjiang. Some of the organisations affected issued statements opposing the move, while analysts warned of a further decoupling between the US and China.
Qihoo 360 Technology Company, an Internet security software supplier, said in a statement that the move politicised business. NetPosa Technologies, which produces video recorders, said the sanctions won’t have a major impact on its daily operations, adding that it will continue to localise its supply chain.
“The move marks a US-China technology decoupling 2.0 or 2.5.,” said Zhou Xiaoming, a former ministry of commerce official and diplomat. “This won’t be the last one, and there will be more coming.”
The US-China relationship has worsened dramatically in the past few months, partly as America has became one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The world’s two biggest economies have clashed on a range of issues from trade to Taiwan.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, on Sunday warned US politicians were pushing relations to a “new Cold War”, as American politicians condemned Beijing’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong.
‘Unreliable entity list’
“The message sent from the US is more important than the Entity List itself,” said Li Yong, a senior fellow at the China Association of International Trade, which is connected to the ministry of commerce. “It shows the US intention to politicise commercial ties, curb China’s technology development and expand its long-arm jurisdiction.”
Li said China has refrained from implementing its own “unreliable entity list” because it still wants to leave some “breathing space” for bilateral relations. China announced it was preparing the blacklist in mid-2019 at the height of the trade war with the US, but never said who was on the list.
Still, when the US announced further curbs on Huawei Technologies earlier this month, Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times newspaper, tweeted that China would retaliate using the list. And the paper cited a source close to the Chinese government as saying US companies such as Apple and Qualcomm could be targeted.
The “unreliable entity list” could be one option and “retaliation could be taken as early as after the Two Sessions”, Zhou said, referring to the annual legislative meetings currently underway in Beijing and scheduled to end on 28 May. — (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP