China eyes front against protectionism at G20

China's President Xi Jinping, right, meets US President Donald Trump during a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this November 9, 2017 photo. (AFP file)
Updated 24 June 2019
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China eyes front against protectionism at G20

  • Negotiations to resolve the US-China trade war stalled last month
  • Both sides have imposed steep tariffs on hundreds of billions in each other’s exports

BEIJING: China said Monday it would seek backing for free trade and multilateralism at the G20 summit this week as it denounced protectionism while it fights a tariffs war with the United States.
A meeting between Xi Jinping and his Donald Trump on the sidelines of the gathering in Osaka, Japan has fueled hopes for a truce in the increasingly damaging standoff between the world’s top two economies.
“Unilateralism and protectionism have damaged global growth ... undermined global value chains and dampened market sentiment,” Zhang Jun, the Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs, said at a briefing to preview Xi’s attendance at the summit.
“China will work with others at the G20 to firmly uphold multilateralism and an open, rule-based global trading order,” Zhang said.
But Japan, the European Union and other trading partners have in the past echoed US complaints about the alleged theft of intellectual property and lack of a level playing field for foreign investors in China.
Any attempts to build a united front with China will be tempered by these concerns.
Negotiations to resolve the trade war stalled last month resulting in both sides exchanging steep tariffs on hundreds of billions in exports.
Chinese vice minister for commerce Wang Shouwen said teams from both sides are now “discussing the next step for communication” ahead of the Xi-Trump meeting.
The two should make compromises and any talks between China and the US have to be based on “mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit and comply with WTO rules,” Wang said.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss the fate of Chinese tech giant Huawei, which has suffered a heavy blow after the Trump administration banned US firms from working with it, citing espionage fears.
Wang urged the US to remove “inappropriate and discriminatory” barriers against Chinese companies, saying such moves jeopardize the interests of both Chinese and US companies.
The planned meeting comes a week after Xi visited nuclear-armed North Korea, and analysts said any influence he may have on Pyongyang’s isolated leader could be used as leverage to win concessions from Trump.
Zhang declined to confirm whether North Korea will be on the agenda for the Trump-Xi head-to-head, saying they were still “finalizing the details.”
He also said China will “not allow” a discussion on Hong Kong at the G20 even as Washington said Trump plans to raise the city’s mass protests in his meeting with Xi.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 38 min 15 sec ago

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.