The U.S. is sticking with its decision to bar Huawei Technologies Co. from next-generation telecommunications networks in America even though President Donald Trump has raised the possibility of including the company in a future trade deal with China, according to a State Department official.
"I can assure you, in terms of our telecommunications network and the United States, we are not going to have untrusted vendors playing any part in them that could undermine our national security," Jonathan Fritz, director for Bilateral & Regional Affairs at the State Department’s office of information policy, told reporters at a briefing in Brussels.
Trump said in May that "it’s possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of trade deal" with China, days after putting the company on a blacklist, saying it poses a national security threat due to spying concerns.
Trade talks with Beijing broke off last month after the U.S. accused China’s leaders of reneging on provisions of a tentative agreement. Trump raised tariffs on about $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25%, and said he would expand the tariffs to cover another $325 billion in goods -- substantially everything the country exports to the U.S. -- unless Chinese leaders reverse course.
"There might be other things related to Huawei that don’t pertain to this issue set that he perhaps he referred to," Fritz said of the president’s remarks.
Last month, the Trump administration issued an order that could restrict Huawei from selling equipment in the U.S. Washington also put the company on a blacklist, threatening its supply of American components from semiconductors to the Google apps that run on its smartphones.
Fritz said the U.S. position on network security is "absolutely crystal clear" and that he didn’t think there would be any change in that stance going forward. The official made the remarks on a trip to Europe as the U.S. continues to urge allies to shun Huawei and other Chinese telecoms companies from their 5G networks, threatening to cut off intelligence-sharing to countries that don’t do so.
The U.S. Justice Department has also indicted Huawei for theft of trade secrets and is pursuing a criminal case against the company’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, alleging that she conspired to defraud banks into unwittingly clearing transactions linked to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
Two U.S. senators who have been vocal about Huawei expressed concern Thursday that the Trump administration may allow the company to operate in the country.
“In no way should Huawei be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations,” Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said in a letter to administration officials. “Allowing the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure is harmful to our national security.”
“Despite the best efforts of our government to convince other countries to keep Huawei components out of their 5G infrastructure, our message is being undermined by concerns that we are not sincere,” Rubio and Warner said. They said Trump’s remarks had “reinforced these fears."