A U.S. decision to add more Chinese companies to a trade blacklist - triggered a harsh response from Beijing Tuesday, ratcheting up tensions ahead of high-level trade talks in Washington this week.
The U.S. expanded a trade ban to include some of China's top artificial intelligence startups…saying it's punishing Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities.
China's foreign ministry fired back - a spokesperson telling the U.S. it was sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.
SOUNDBITE (MANDARIN) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN GEN SHUANG, SAYING: "We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw the relevant decisions, and stop interfering with China's internal affairs.
China will take firm and strong actions to firmly protect its interests of sovereignty, security and development." The U.S. ban prohibits eight Chinese companies such as video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as SenseTime Group and Megvii Technology - both leaders in facial recognition technology, from buying components from U.S. companies without Washington's approval.
It's the same tactic Washington used in an attempt to cripple Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
A U.S. spokesman for Hikvision, which describes itself as the world's largest maker of video surveillance gear, said the company brought on a human rights expert and U.S. ambassador in January to advise on human rights issues and it "strongly opposes" the decision.
Meanwhile - Washington said the blacklist expansion has nothing to do with the upcoming trade talks.
China isn't so sure.
SOUNDBITE (MANDARIN) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN GEN SHUANG, SAYING: "China's position on the China-US trade issues is consistent and clear.
We hope the U.S. can work with China and meet us halfway to promote progress through negotiations on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefits." But Beijing isn't holding its breath.
The Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, People's Daily, said on Tuesday: Beijing has made "sufficient and appropriate" plans in case the talks completely collapse.
Sensing a deal this week might be hard to come by, investors dumped U.S. stocks.