China calls out US ‘wrong actions’ as Huawei ban rattles supply chains

Huawei has been banned by the United States. (Reuters pic)

BEIJING: Beijing said Washington needs to correct its “wrong actions” for trade talks to continue after the US blacklisted Huawei, a blow that has rippled through global supply chains and battered tech shares as investors feared a looming technology cold war.

Japanese conglomerate Panasonic on Thursday joined the growing list of global companies which have said they are disengaging with Huawei Technologies, the world’s second-largest seller of smartphones and the largest telecom-gear maker, saying it had stopped shipments of some components.

Its move came a day after British chip designer ARM said it had halted relations with Huawei to comply with the US supply blockade, potentially crippling the Chinese firm’s ability to make new chips for its future smartphones.

Huawei uses ARM blueprints to design the processors that power its smartphones.

“If the United States wants to continue trade talks, they should show sincerity and correct their wrong actions. Negotiations can only continue on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a weekly briefing.

“We will closely monitor relevant developments and prepare necessary responses,” he said, without elaborating.

Japan’s Toshiba said it had resumed some shipments to Huawei after temporarily suspending shipments to check whether they included US-made components.

“What we are witnessing is a potential reconfiguration of global trade as it has stood since World War II … investors should begin thinking about how sensitive their portfolios are to global supply chain-exposed shocks,” Saxo Bank’s head of equity strategy, Peter Garnry, wrote in a note titled, “Are you ready for a cold war in tech?”

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told Chinese financial magazine Caixin on Thursday that he did not see ARM’s decision to suspend business with Huawei as having an impact on the company.

He said that Huawei had a long-term agreement with ARM and speculated that the British firm had made such a move because its parent, Japan’s SoftBank was waiting for US approval for the merger of Sprint, which it owns, and T-Mobile.

Industry experts have questioned Huawei’s claims minimising the impact of moves that make it hard for the company to do business with American firms.

No further trade talks between top Chinese and US negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended on May 10, the same day US President Donald Trump sharply increased tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods and took steps to levy duties on all remaining Chinese imports.

China retaliated with its own levies on US imports, but it was Washington’s subsequent move against Huawei that took the trade war into a new phase, stoking fears about risks to global growth and knocking financial markets.

The United States has accused Huawei of activities contrary to national security, an accusation Huawei denies.

The Trump administration softened its stance slightly this week by granting the firm a licence to buy US goods until Aug 19 to minimise disruption for customers.