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China accuses UK of discriminating with tech ban

A law proposed on Tuesday would formalise Boris Johnson’s July order that blocks Huawei from a planned 5G network.

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(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

China has accused the UK of improperly attacking Chinese tech companies after the British government proposed a law to block market access to telecom equipment giant Huawei and other firms that are deemed high-risk.

The Chinese foreign ministry gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate if approval is given to legislation proposed on Tuesday which would tighten security requirements for next-generation wireless and optical fibre networks and fine violators.

The Trump administration is lobbying European and other allies to avoid Huawei and other Chinese vendors as they upgrade telecom networks.

Washington says Huawei, China’s first global tech brand, is a security risk, which the company denies.

Blatantly violating the principles of market economy and free tradeZhao Lijian

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said: “Without any evidence, the British side has repeatedly co-operated with the United States to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies under the pretext of unfounded risks.”

Britain is “blatantly violating the principles of market economy and free trade, seriously damaging the normal operations of Chinese companies” and hurting trust between the two governments, Mr Zhao added.

Huawei is at the centre of US-Chinese tension over technology and security.

The Trump administration is trying to limit US market access to Chinese companies it says might collect too much information about users or pose other risks.

They include video app TikTok, video surveillance provider HikVision and messaging service WeChat.

The law proposed on Tuesday would formalise Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s July order that blocks Huawei from a planned 5G network. The UK had earlier given Huawei a limited role but reversed that under US pressure.

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