China's commerce ministry issues rules on 'unreliable entities' list

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s commerce ministry on Saturday issued rules on its proposed list of “unreliable entities,” part of an intensifying rift with the United States, saying it will target foreign firms and individuals endangering China’s sovereignty and security.

The Chinese national flag flies outside a hotel in central Beijing, China May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Files

After President Donald Trump's administration imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods and curbs on Huawei Technologies Co HWT.UL last year, China vowed to draw up a list aimed at punishing foreign firms deemed harmful to Chinese interests.

It has yet to publish the list.

The United States said on Friday it will ban WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok from U.S. stores starting on Sunday night, a move that will block Americans from downloading the Chinese-owned platforms over concerns they pose a national security threat.

China’s list will target foreign firms and individuals violating normal market transactions in China, interrupting deals with Chinese firms or taking discriminatory measures against Chinese firms, the ministry said.

In May, state-run tabloid Global Times reported the measures would target such U.S. companies as Apple Inc AAPL.O, Cisco Systems Inc CSCO.O, Qualcomm Inc QCOM.O, while suspending purchases of Boeing Co BA.N airplanes.

The ministry said the list will help “safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, maintain a fair and free international economic and trade order, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, other organizations or individuals.”

Authorities will set up a working mechanism and an office to help implement work related to the list, it added.

China will prohibit foreign firms listed as unreliable entities from engaging in import, export and investment in China, the ministry said.

Foreign firms could be removed from the list if they correct their behaviours and takes steps to eliminate the consequences of their actions, it said.

Reporting by Cheng Leng and Kevin Yao; Editing by Michael Perry and William Mallard