- President Donald Trump has commented in detail for the first time on the Huawei firestorm after his administration blacklisted the Chinese tech giant last week.
- In a single sentence, he said Huawei presented a “very dangerous” security risk but could also form part of a trade deal between the US and China.
- Trump did not explain how Huawei could go from being a national security threat to a bargaining chip.
- His administration has been trying to treat Huawei and the trade dispute as separate issues, but Trump has now repeatedly undermined this effort.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
US President Donald Trump has made his first meaningful remarks on the Huawei firestorm since his administration blacklisted the Chinese tech giant last week.
Trump was speaking at a news conference announcing a $US16 billion aid package for farmers caught up in the US-China trade war when he addressed Huawei, the Chinese company that has been placed on a list mandating that US firms get the US government’s permission to do business with it.
Trump started out by saying Huawei posed a huge security threat to the US. American officials have long floated suspicions that Huawei could act as a conduit for Chinese surveillance.
“Huawei is something that’s very dangerous,” Trump told reporters. “You look at what they have done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint, it’s very dangerous.”
He immediately switched gears, however, to suggest that Huawei could form part of a trade deal between the US and China. “So it’s possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of a trade deal,” he said. “If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form.”
"Huawei is very dangerous," Trump says, adding that an exception for the company could be made in a trade deal with China pic.twitter.com/TFlClewBNt
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) May 23, 2019
Here’s a transcript of the full exchange:
Trump: “Huawei is something that’s very dangerous. You look at what they have done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint, it’s very dangerous. So, it’s possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of a trade deal. If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form of, or some part of a trade deal.”
Journalist: “How would that look?”
Trump: “It would look very good for us.”
Journalist: “But the Huawei part, how would you design that?”
Trump: “Oh it’s too early to say. We’re just very concerned about Huawei from a security standpoint.”
Trump did not explain how Huawei could go from being a “very dangerous” national security threat to a key cog in a trade settlement between the US and China.
Russell Brandom, the policy editor for the tech news site The Verge, said the two remarks were “incompatible.” In an op-ed article, he added: “They only make sense if the security threat is a bluff. You can’t negotiate away a security threat as part of a trade deal.”
Trump’s remarks also represent a doubling down on an intervention he made in the Huawei dispute in December. His administration had been trying to treat the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and the US-China trade talks as two separate issues, but Trump then suggested Meng could be used as a bargaining chip in the trade talks. His comments Thursday linked the issues of Huawei and the China trade war even more directly.
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