June 11, 2020 / 7:13 PM / a month ago

China hits back at U.S. telecom supply chain order at WTO

GENEVA, June 11 (Reuters) - China accused the United States on Thursday of undermining the global tech industry's supply chains with a renewed executive order barring U.S. companies from using telecoms equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.

Jiankai Jin, a diplomat at China's mission to the World Trade Organization, denounced the U.S. move during closed door multilateral talks at the body's headquarters in Geneva.

"We would also like to know how the U.S. 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 Reuters.

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

The U.S. 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 Donald Trump extended for another year an executive order signed in May 2019 declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecoms equipment made by firms posing a national security risk.

U.S. lawmakers said Trump’s order was aimed squarely at Chinese companies Huawai 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, the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker, has repeatedly denied.

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

"Unfortunately, at the time of crisis, the U.S. 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. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)

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