US pressure on Huawei pure ‘economic bullying’: Foreign minister

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US pressure on Chinese firms such as tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is economic bullying and a move to try to prevent the country’s development process, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

“The use of US power to suppress China’s private enterprises, such as Huawei, is typical economic bullying,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement.

Wang, who is also China‘s state councillor, also said in another statement that Beijing’s door would always be open to the United States for trade negotiations, but it would not accept any unequal agreements.

The world’s two largest economies have escalated tariff increases on each other’s imports after talks broke down to resolve their dispute, and the acrimony has intensified since Washington last week blacklisted Chinese telecom equipment and handsets company Huawei.

Meanwhile, British-based chip designer ARM said on Wednesday it was complying with a move by the US to block China’s Huawei from accessing US technology.

Huawei, in common with Apple and chipmakers such as Qualcomm, uses ARM blueprints to design the processors that power its smartphones. It also licenses graphics technology from the Cambridge-based company.

“ARM is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the US government,” an ARM spokesman said in a statement. “No further comment at this time.”

Google fallout

The US blocked Huawei from buying US goods last week, jeopardising ties with Google, which provides the Android operating system and services such as Gmail and Google Maps, as well as hardware partners such as ARM.

Huawei’s international partners are moving to distance themselves from the Chinese company until there is clarity over its relationship with US technology partners that provide the apps and services that are crucial for consumers.

Mobile phone retailers in some Asian countries, meanwhile, are refusing to accept Huawei devices for trade-ins, as more consumers look to offload them on worries Google suspending business with the Chinese firm will disrupt services.

New Huawei phones will lose access to popular apps such as YouTube and Chrome.

Against this backdrop, some customers in Singapore and the Philippines have rushed to sell their Huawei phones, according to retailers and online marketplace data.

But there are few takers.

“If we buy something that is useless how are we going to sell it?” said Dylan On, a salesman at Wanying Pte Ltd, a Singapore retail and repair shop.

“It’s not that Huawei is a bad product. It’s a very good product. It’s just that nobody wants to buy it now because of US policy,” he said.

Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.

Current users unaffected

The company has said it is developing its own phone software and it can still use an “open source” version of Android that lacks access to Google apps.

Carousell, Singapore’s most popular online marketplace, said the number of Huawei phone sales more than doubled the day the US order was announced.

Mobile phone retailers in the Philippines are also staying away from Huawei products.

“We are no longer accepting Huawei phones. It will not be bought by our clients any more,” Hamida Norhamida, a saleswoman of new and used phones in Manila’s Greenhills shopping centre told Reuters News Agency, adding she felt relieved to have sold off her stock of Huawei P30 Pro before Google’s Monday announcement.

But some see this as an opportunity to get a quality phone on the cheap.

“My immediate reaction was worry that my current Huawei could be worthless,” Xin Yi, a 24-year-old student from Singapore. “But Google said current Huawei users will not be affected … After that, I was relieved.”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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