BEIJING – The Chinese government stated on Friday that it was putting together a "unreliable unit list" for foreign companies and people, an apparently first step towards retaliation against the United States for denying vital American technology to Chinese companies.
China's Ministry of Commerce said the list would include foreign companies, individuals and organizations "not complying with market rules, violating the spirit of contracts, blockades and stopping supply of Chinese companies for non-commercial reasons and seriously harming the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies . "
However, the language still responds to the US government, which in recent months has given Chinese companies what it calls a "business list" for companies that need special permission to purchase US components and technology. Two weeks ago, Trump Administration placed Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer, on the device list, which could deny access to microchips, software, and other US technology it should do and sell its products.
Shortly after some US technology companies including Google said they would stop delivering Huawei. The US government has since given Huawei a 90-day exception, giving Chinese and American officials time to hammer a deal. The Trump administration also says to consider putting Hikvision, a Chinese video surveillance company on the list.
If Friday's movement is supposed to be a back-to-back strike at US technology companies, Beijing will have ample goals. Big websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google are blocked in China and rules strictly control other companies such as online payments and cloud services.
Still, most US technology companies have a large presence in China. Both Google and Microsoft operate significant research and development operations in the country, and their Android and Windows operating systems are ubiquitous on Chinese smartphones and computers. Google and Facebook are likely to pull billions of dollars into advertising revenue from Chinese companies.
The vague advertising also opens the door for retaliation of other kinds, perhaps against individuals or companies that are heavily dependent on the Chinese market to sell their products. But China must be cautious about how it is claimed, as many US companies are already reconsidering their dependence on the Chinese market and Chinese suppliers. If neither side is left, brinkmanship can permanently pull apart the supply chains linking the economies of the countries.
Mr. Gao, the spokesman for the ministry, said in the statement that the list would address those who block supplies and "take other discriminatory measures."
"This not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and threatens China's national security and interests, but also threatens global industrial chain and supply chain security," he added.