Beijing — China summoned global technology companies for talks last week following May’s US ban on selling technology to China’s Huawei Technologies, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
The blacklisting of Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecoms network equipment, bars US companies from supplying it with many goods and services due to what Washington said were national security issues, a potentially crippling blow that sharply escalated US-China trade tensions.
Huawei denies that its equipment poses a security threat.
Soon afterwards, Beijing announced it would release its own list of “unreliable” foreign entities. It also has hinted that it will limit its supply of rare earths to the US.
A person at US software firm Microsoft said the company’s session with Chinese officials was not a direct warning but it was made clear to the firm that complying with US bans would likely lead to further complications for all sector participants.
The company was asked not to make hasty or ill-considered moves before the situation was fully understood, the person said, adding that the tone was conciliatory. Microsoft declined to comment.
The New York Times first reported on the meetings led by China’s national development and reform commission, saying major foreign tech firms were warned against complying with a US ban on selling US technology to Chinese firms or potentially face what the newspaper described as dire consequences.
The commission did not immediately reply to a faxed request for comment from Reuters.
It is not unusual for China to summon representatives of foreign and domestic companies, sometimes in groups, to make its views heard. One person with another US tech company in China who was briefed by colleagues on the company’s meeting told Reuters that the tone was much softer than expected.
“No mentioning of Huawei. No ultimatums. Just asked to stay in the country, contribute to the win-win negotiation,” the person said, declining to be identified by name or company given the sensitivity of the matter. “I think they realise they still need US tech and products for now; self-sufficiency will take a long time, and only after then they can kick us out,” the person said.
The New York Times reported that other companies summoned for meetings last Tuesday and Wednesday included US computer maker Dell Technologies, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, and British chip designer ARM, which in May halted supplies to Huawei.
Samsung and SK Hynix declined to comment. Dell did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment and a spokesperson for ARM could not immediately be reached.
Separately, the editor of China’s Global Times tabloid said on Saturday that Beijing was preparing to curb some tech exports to the US. In a tweet, Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said that China “is building a management mechanism to protect China’s key technologies”.
“This is a major step to improve its system and also a move to counter the US crackdown,” he said. “Once taking effect, some technology exports to the US will be subject to the control.”
Hu did not cite any named sources in his tweet. The Global Times is a tabloid published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
Also on Saturday, Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that the national development and reform commission would organise a study to establish a “national technological security management list system”.
Last week, Reuters reported that Facebook was no longer allowing pre-installation of its apps on Huawei smartphones.