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China says U.S. demand on its state-owned enterprises is 'invasion' on economic sovereignty

China says U.S. demand on its state-owned enterprises is 'invasion' on economic sovereignty
A worker cycles past containers outside a logistics center near Tianjin Port, in northern China, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee -
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JASON LEE(Reuters)
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BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has called on China to curb the development of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), a demand that China sees as an "invasion" on its economic sovereignty, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.

Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated sharply earlier this month after the Trump administration accused China of having "reneged" on its previous promises to make structural changes to its economic practices.

Washington later slapped additional tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

As trade talks stalled, both sides have appeared to be digging in. China has denied it had walked back on its promises but reiterated it would not make concessions to "matters of principles" to defend its core interests, although no full details were given.

"At the negotiating table, the U.S. government presented a number of arrogant demands to China, including restricting the development of state-owned enterprises," Xinhua said in a commentary.

SOEs in China enjoy not only explicit subsidies but also hidden benefits such as implicit government guarantees for debts and lower interest for bank loans, analysts and trade groups say.

"Obviously, this is beyond the scope of trade negotiations and touches on China's fundamental economic system," Xinhua said.

"This shows that behind the United States' trade war against China, it is trying to invade China's economic sovereignty and force China to damage its core interests."

The commentary added the United States has made unfounded accusations including that Beijing had forced technology transfers from foreign firms operating in China, saying this is all evidence that the U.S side is "forcing China to change its development path."

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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