China took a play out of Donald Trump’s reality TV show playbook on Tuesday, telling markets to “stay tuned” for retaliation after the US blacklisted a bevy of Chinese tech firms, including surveillance giant Hikvision.
The move was telegraphed back in May, but delayed along with an aggressive foreign policy speech by Mike Pence, in the interest of keeping trade talks afloat. That the US Commerce department pulled the trigger on Monday suggested a last-minute grab for leverage by the Trump administration ahead of talks between Liu He, Bob Lighthizer and Steve Mnuchin in Washington this week.
“We urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake”, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters on Tuesday, adding that markets should “stay tuned” to find out whether Beijing will hit back.
Geng also said the Chinese government does not abuse human rights in Xinjiang, and charged the US with interfering in the country’s internal affairs.
The Securities Times quoted Hikvision as calling the US decision “unsubstantiated”. The company says it will take “appropriate” economic measures to ensure its interests and those of its partners are protected. Hikvision also claims it can provide products and services to customers in a “steady” way – that’s an effort to suggest the US blacklisting won’t cripple its ability to serve clients. Here’s what else the company had to say:
Hikvision strongly opposes [this] decision by the US government and it will hamper efforts by global companies to improve human rights around the world. Punishing Hikvision, despite these engagements, will deter global companies from communicating with the US government, hurt Hikvision’s US businesses partners and negatively impact the US economy.
Later, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese delegation to Washington may cut its visit short by one night, and return to Beijing early.
“On this occasion, which is the 13th round of talks between the two sides, Liu will not carry the title of ‘special envoy’ for President Xi Jinping, an early indication that the 67-year-old vice-premier has not been given any particular instructions from China’s leader”, SCMP writes, adding that “a source who has been briefed on preparations for the talks [said] the Chinese delegation may cut short their stay in Washington, removing the possible chance of the talks extending into Friday evening as the delegation would be expected to head to the airport instead of departing at some point on Saturday”.
At the regular news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, the foreign ministry’s Geng insisted that come hell or high tariffs, “China will continue to take firm and forceful measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
To be clear, there is almost nothing more potentially injurious to those “development interests” than the Trump administration’s efforts to undercut the country’s technological advancement.