China ramped up a war of words with the United States over Huawei on Friday, accusing Washington of spreading “lies” about the telecom giant thrust to the centre of their trade war. The fiery response came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected Huawei’s denials that the Chinese company works with the Communist government.
The Trump administration has infuriated Beijing by blacklisting the smartphone and telecommunications company over worries that China uses it as a tool for espionage, and allegations of breaking sanctions on Iran. Huawei has repeatedly denied it works with the Communist-led government.
“To say that they don’t work with the Chinese government is a false statement,” Pompeo told CNBC on Thursday, adding that Huawei was “deeply tied” to the Communist Party. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said US politicians have spread rumours about Huawei without providing evidence.
“These American politicians continue to fabricate various subjective, presumptive lies in an attempt to mislead the American people, and now they are trying to incite ideological opposition,” Lu said at a regular press briefing. Trump on Thursday again said Huawei posed a threat to national security.
“You look at what they’ve done from a security standpoint, a military standpoint. Very dangerous,” he told reporters at the White House. The heated rhetoric comes as trade negotiations have stalled, with neither side announcing a new date to resume talks after they exchanged increases in tariffs earlier this month.
But Trump also said Thursday there was a “good” possibility that the two sides will strike a bargain and linked Huawei to any deal for the first time. “If we made a deal, I can imagine Huawei being included in some form or some part of a trade deal,” he said. Trump’s comments directly contradicted Pompeo, who earlier said Huawei and the trade issues were not linked.
The chief US diplomat separated the two issues between national security concerns and efforts to create a “fair reciprocal balanced trade relationship.” Lu said he was not aware of the “specifics” of Trump’s comments and repeated that dialogue must be based on “mutual respect”.
The official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Friday that China has “fully prepared for a protracted trade war” with the United States. President Xi Jinping himself declared on Monday that China faced a “new Long March” — a reference to the legendary 1934-35 strategic retreat by Communist revolutionaries before their victory in 1949.
“All of the Chinese people are ready to embark on a new ‘Long March’ journey with greater courage and resilience and will never yield to foreign bullying and assault,” Xinhua said. Trump, meanwhile, unveiled a new $16 billion aid package to help farmers hit by tariffs. In Washington, US lawmakers this week introduced a bipartisan proposal to help telecom networks remove Huawei as they upgrade to 5G systems.
The bill is aimed at preventing “companies subject to extra-judicial directions of a foreign adversary to infiltrate our nation’s communications networks,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Companies around the world are scrambling to comply with the US blacklist, which would prevent them from supplying American technology components or software to Huawei.
Major Japanese and British mobile carriers said this week they would delay releasing new Huawei handsets as a result of the US sanctions. In the US, equipment makers Inphi Corp, Qorvo, Neophotonics and Rogers Corp. all said they would see lower sales due to the Huawei sanctions. 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.
The Commerce Department also announced a ban on US companies selling or transferring technology to Huawei, though it later issued a 90-day reprieve. Google said it would cut off Huawei devices from some services on the Android operating system. Huawei has since indicated that it could roll out its own mobile operating system this year in China and internationally next year.