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China accuses Britain of discriminating with tech ban

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BEIJING — China accused Britain on Wednesday of improperly attacking Chinese tech companies after the British government proposed a law to block market access to telecom equipment giant Huawei and other vendors that are deemed high-risk.

The foreign ministry gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate if the law proposed Tuesday is approved. It would tighten security requirements for next-generation wireless and optical fiber 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.

“Without any evidence, the British side has repeatedly cooperated with the United States to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies under the pretext of unfounded risks,” said a ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian.

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, Zhao said.

Huawei is at the center of U.S.-Chinese tension over technology and security.

The Trump administration is trying to limit U.S. 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 Tuesday would formalize British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s July order that blocks Huawei from a planned fifth-generation, or 5G, network. Britain earlier gave Huawei a limited role but reversed that under U.S. pressure.

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