China does not tell its firms to
spy on other countries: Premier Li



Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets the press after the conclusion of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 15, 2019. [Photo: Xinhua/Xing Guangli]


Beijing, Mar 15 : Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Friday denied the allegations that Beijing instructs its companies like Huawei, one the world's biggest tech firms, to spy on foreign countries and played down the impact of the current trade war with the US.

The Chinese government did not and will not tell its companies to spy on other countries, premier Li said during his annual press conference when asked about the spying allegations relating to Chinese giant Huawei which is facing stiff actions in the US and a number of other countries.

"Let me tell you explicitly that this is not consistent with Chinese law. This is not how China behaves. We did not do that and will not do that in the future," he said.

This was the first such comment on Huawei from the top Chinese leadership.

Li's remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early this month said Huawei was owned by the Chinese government, has deep connections to their intelligence services and presents a national security threat.

Pompeo urged the countries to think twice before signing up with one the world's biggest tech firms.

"Huawei is owned by the state of China and has deep connections to their intelligence service. That should send off flares for everybody who understands what the Chinese military and Chinese intelligence services do. We have to take that threat seriously," Pompeo said.

More and more Western nations are reviewing doing business with the firm over spying concerns. Huawei has always maintained it acts independently.

Western countries have begun reviewing their relationship with Huawei, specifically with regards to its technology being used in new "fifth generation 5G" mobile internet networks.

Huawei, the largest global maker of network gear for phone and internet companies, has denied the allegations that it facilitates Chinese spying and has sued the US government.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said that his company did not work under the Chinese government and could reject disclosure of any information if approached by the officials.

Huawei is locked in major legal battle with the US over the arrest of its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou who is also the daughter of Ren over charges that the company violated US sanctions to supply equipment to Iran.

Wanzhou was detained in Canada and faced extradition to the US.

On the current trade talks with the US, Li said China hoped the talks will deliver win-win results and mutual benefits for both countries, world's two biggest economies.

"I believe this is also what the whole world would like to see," he said.

China and the US have become closely intertwined through years of development and cooperation, it is neither realistic nor possible to decouple the two economies, he said.

According to reports, after several rounds of talks, both countries are currently negotiating the draft text of a deal.

"I believe we need to continue to follow the principles of cooperation instead of confrontation, mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefits to advance bilateral relations, including economic and trade ties, to deliver concrete benefits to people of the countries," he said.

Despite twists and turns, the overall relationship between China and the US will forge ahead, as their shared interests far outweigh differences, Li said.

The US and China are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another's goods, though they are currently in talks in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

US President Donald Trump, who last year declared a trade war, is demanding China reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit, provide legal protection for intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

He has already increased the tariffs on over USD 250 billion Chinese exports to the US and threatened to extend tariffs on USD 200 billion Chinese imports to 25 per cent.

Trump has extended March 1 deadline to impose further tariffs on the rest of the Chinese goods.

Both countries are holding intense talks to end the deadlock.


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