Archive for ‘tech firms’

15/03/2019

Li Keqiang says decoupling from US ‘not realistic’, denies China would ask tech firms to spy

  • Premier refutes spying suggestion, saying it is ‘not how China behaves’ and that Beijing would never require Chinese companies to do so
  • He says ‘the whole world would like to see’ resolution to tariff war with mutually beneficial outcomes
Premier Li Keqiang admitted relations between China and the US had seen some “twists and turns”, particularly over trade. Photo: Simon Song
Premier Li Keqiang on Friday said economic decoupling from the United States was “not realistic”, while refuting claims that Beijing would ever require Chinese tech companies to spy on foreign governments or individuals.
During a news conference in Beijing at the end of the annual legislative meetings, Li admitted relations between China and the US had recently seen “twists and turns”, particularly over trade, but said he hoped ongoing negotiations to resolve the tariff war would deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.
“I believe that result is also what the whole world would like to see,” he said. “As two large economies, China and the US have become closely entwined through years of growing their relationship and years of cooperation. It is neither realistic nor possible to decouple the two economies.”
While the world’s two largest economies have held off on applying further tariffs this year, multiple rounds of discussion in Beijing and Washington have yet to yield a trade deal to resolve the dispute – one the US hopes will be address issues including its trade deficit with China, market access, industrial subsidies, intellectual property protection, forced technology transfers, and cybertheft. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He spoke by phone with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and they made “concrete progress” towards a deal, according to state news agency Xinhua.
But as trade tensions have played out, Washington’s hawks have pushed for a “decoupling” between the two economies or at least a “partial decoupling” in the hi-tech sphere.
Premier Li Keqiang reassures Hong Kong over mainland China’s foreign investment law

Li on Friday also rejected the claim that Beijing had or would mandate Chinese tech companies to assist in spying on foreign governments or individuals, a key concern for countries considering using hi-tech equipment from China in sensitive sectors.

The premier initially sidestepped a question about Chinese technology spying, but later made a point to go back and “very explicitly respond” to it after taking a separate question about China’s economic reform.

“Let me tell you explicitly that this is not consistent with Chinese law. This is not how China behaves,” Li said. “We did not do that, and we will not do that in the future.”

His comments come as the US has been pushing for a ban on the use of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s technology in critical 5G networks over national security concerns, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning European countries in February that using the company’s equipment could hurt their ties with Washington.
In recent months, Huawei has come under growing scrutiny and pressure, with the US levelling serious fraud charges against the company and its executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou related to alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran. Washington has ordered Meng be extradited from Canada, where she remains awaiting extradition proceedings.
Huawei pleads not guilty to US charges of bank fraud and violating Iran sanctions in case that triggered a global firestorm
Huawei’s founder and president Ren Zhengfei, who is also Meng’s father, has claimed in interviews that he would “definitely” refuse any requests by the Chinese government to hand over user data. But observers have been sceptical that the tech giant would be able to refuse these requests from Beijing, which has responded strongly to the actions taken against Huawei, including with what has been seen as the reciprocal detentions of two Canadians in China – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
Li’s annual press conference on Friday – an event where questions are carefully screened and planned in advance – comes after the conclusion of the yearly gathering for the National People’s Congress, a largely rubber-stamp legislative body. National delegates also voted to approve a new foreign investment law that touched on intellectual property and technology transfer concerns raised by the US, although foreign business bodies warned that the legislation was vague and pushed through quickly in light of the trade war.
As businesses and market watchers look to a proposed summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to clinch a trade deal, Li stressed that China was seeking cooperation rather than confrontation.
“We need to continue to follow the principles of cooperation before confrontation, mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit to continue to grow the China-US relationship, including their economic and trade ties,” Li said. “As for their differences and disagreements, we have confidence that people of the two countries have the wisdom and the capability to defuse their differences and manage them properly to pursue steady and sound growth of the US-China relationship.”
Source: SCMP
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