“Huawei is something that’s very dangerous” from a security standpoint, Trump told reporters Thursday.
But then he floated the idea of using the Chinese tech firm as leverage in the ongoing trade negotiations with China.
“It’s possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of trade deal,” Trump said. “If we made a deal, I can imagine Huawei being included in some form of, some part of a trade deal.”
The Trump administration has been pressuring allies to restrict Huawei equipment in the build out of their 5G networks, citing national security concerns. Washington fears that Beijing could use Huawei equipment to spy on other countries, but has not provided any evidence that such acts have occurred.
Huawei has repeatedly denied that any of its products pose a security risk, noting that Beijing has never requested access to its equipment and if it did, the company would refuse to comply. The Chinese government denies stealing intellectual property and committing unfair trade practices.
Washington has been unmoved by those reassurances.
“If you put your information in the hands of the Chinese communist party, it’s de facto a real risk to you. They may not use it today, they may not use it tomorrow,” Pompeo said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday. “To say they don’t work with the Chinese government is a false statement.”
Last week, the Commerce Department barred US companies from selling key parts and components to Huawei, deeming the company a threat to the United States’ national security and foreign policy interest.
Trump’s suggestion Thursday that he is using Huawei as an enormous bargaining chip in the ongoing trade talks reinforces Beijing’s position on the situation.
“Recently the United States is frequently using ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ to suppress Chinese enterprises,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday. “China urges the US to stop the wrongdoings to avoid further impact on the China-US trade relations.”
“If the US would like to continue to talk, it should show its sincerity and correct its wrong actions,” Gao added.
Shortly after her arrest, Trump told Reuters that his administration was open to using Meng’s detainment as leverage in the ongoing trade negotiations with China.
Meng is seeking a stay of extradition proceedings in part based on Trump’s comments, which her lawyers argue disqualifies the United States from pursuing the case in Canada.
Yong Xiong contributed to this report.