China on Tuesday accused the US of “economic bullying behavior” after US regulators cited security threats in proposing to cut off funding for Chinese equipment in US telecommunications networks.

China would “resolutely oppose the US abusing state power to suppress specific Chinese enterprises with unwarranted charges in the absence of any evidence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a daily briefing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing on January 29, 2019. (Picture: Andy Wong/AP)

“The economic bullying behavior of the US is a denial of the market economy principle that the US has always advertised,” Geng said, adding the US actions would “undermine the interests” of US businesses and consumers, especially in rural areas.

“We would like to urge the US once again to stop abusing the concept of national security,” Geng said.

The Federal Communications Commission votes next month on whether to bar telecom companies from using government subsidies to pay for networking equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

The move mostly affects small, rural companies, since larger US wireless companies do not use equipment from the two Chinese firms.

The agency is also exploring the impact of requiring companies to rip out their current Huawei and ZTE equipment, a demand a trade group for small rural wireless carriers has said would cost up to $1 billion.

The government is seeking comments on how it can help companies financially if they’re required to do that. Bills in Congress have proposed setting $700 million to $1 billion aside for telecom companies to replace their networks.

The US government says Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of telecom gear and No. 2 smartphone manufacturer, poses an espionage threat. It has presented no evidence of its equipment being used for spying by the Chinese government and both Huawei and ZTE have denied their equipment is used for such purposes.

The US government also has been pressuring allies to ban Huawei from their networks and has restricted exports of US technology to Huawei.