US President Donald Trump on Thursday for the first time linked a dispute over Huawei Technologies Co (華為), which he views as a threat to national security, with a deal to resolve the US-China trade dispute.
“Huawei is something that is very dangerous,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You look at what they’ve done from a security standpoint, a military standpoint. Very dangerous.”
That notwithstanding, Trump said there is a “good possibility” that Washington would reach an agreement with Beijing to end the escalating trade conflict and that “it’s possible that Huawei would be included in a trade deal.”
The two sides have hardened their stands over Huawei, with the US blacklisting the smartphone and telecommunications company over worries that China uses it as a tool for espionage, while Beijing has accused Washington of “bullying” the firm.
Trump’s comments directly contradicted statements from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who just hours earlier said that Huawei and the trade dispute were not linked.
In an interview on CNBC, Pompeo said that there are two separate elements: “the national security component” and efforts “to create a fair reciprocal balanced trade relationship between the two countries.”
“I hope that we can keep those issues in their own place. We have an imperative to protect American national security. We have a need to make sure we get these trade rules right,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also rejected Huawei’s statements about its relationship with the Chinese government and said any data touched by the company is “at risk” of falling into the wrong hands.
“To say that they don’t work with the Chinese government is a false statement,” Pompeo said. “[Huawei] is deeply tied not only to China, but to the Chinese Communist Party.”
China had already drawn a link between the two issues, accusing the US of “bullying” Huawei.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on Wednesday warned that Beijing was ready to “fight to the very end” in its trade dispute with Washington.
“The US use of state power to arbitrarily exert pressure on a private Chinese company like Huawei is typical economic bullying,” Wang said.
Last week, Trump declared a national emergency to bar US companies from using foreign telecom equipment deemed a security risk — a move seen as targeting Huawei.
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