(Bloomberg) -- China could retaliate against the U.S. after President Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese ambassador to the European Union said.
Trump upped the ante in his trade dispute with China last week, announcing moves to curb Huawei’s business that are starting to have ramifications for other companies around the world.
"This is wrong behavior, so there will be a necessary response," Zhang Ming, China’s envoy to the EU, said in an interview in Brussels on Monday. "Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests are being undermined, so the Chinese government will not sit idly by."
Trump on Friday signed an order that could restrict Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. from selling their equipment in the U.S. The Trump administration, which says Chinese companies are obliged to aid Beijing in espionage, also put Huawei on a blacklist that could forbid it from doing business with American companies.
On Monday, the Commerce Department granted a 90-day reprieve for certain U.S. broadband companies and wireless customers using Huawei equipment. The temporary license covers continued operation of existing networks and equipment as well as support to existing handsets and other limited actions, according to a notice published in the Federal Register Monday.
Zhang called the Trump administration’s moves to blacklist Huawei "politically motivated" and an "abuse of export-control measures."
"The U.S. government is trying to bring down Huawei through administrative means," he said.
He added that China would "make the best possible effort to defend the legitimate right and interests of Chinese companies" and urged Washington "not to go further down the wrong path, to avoid further disturbances to China-U.S. relations."
At a regular news briefing in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang earlier Monday said to "wait and see" with regards to what countermeasures the Chinese government and enterprises could take in response to the U.S. measures against Huawei.
China’s state media kept up its recent belligerent tone Tuesday. Repeated misjudgment by the U.S. could produce grave consequences, according to a commentary published in the People’s Daily. Attempts to impede the historical process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be like "a mantis trying to stop a car with its arms," it said.
Washington’s actions come as the U.S. seeks to pressure China into agreeing to a wide-ranging trade deal. After Trump this month escalated a trade war with China through tariff increases on $200 billion of Chinese goods and a plan to impose levies on all further U.S. imports from the country, Zhang accused Washington of undermining more than a year of talks on an agreement.
“The United States has been repeatedly creating troubles to the consultation, undermining the positive momentum formed in the process of hard and tough negotiations and seeking illegitimate gains through bullying and blackmail,” Zhang said.
He said China would refuse to back down in the face of such tactics while keeping the door open to dialog, citing Chinese unity with Europe and other parts of the world in defending the global trade system and asserting the U.S. is isolated as a result of its unilateralism and protectionism.
“China has unwavering resolve to defend its legitimate right and interests,” Zhang said. “If the U.S. wants to fight, we will accompany to the end and we will also fight earnestly. In other words, the ball is in the U.S. court.”
With anti-U.S. sentiment in China growing to the point that a privately produced Chinese trade-war fight song has gone viral in Beijing, he stressed unity and resolve in the country. He also emphasized the longevity of Chinese civilization.
“We have been holding on for 5,000 years,” Zhang said. “Why not another 5,000 years?”
(Updates with People’s Daily commentary in eighth paragraph.)
--With assistance from Dandan Li.
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