Trump contradicts himself on Huawei in a single sentence; says firm is huge security threat but could also be bargaining chip in China trade war
- Donald Trump has commented 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 is both a "very dangerous" security risk, but could also form part of a trade deal with America and China.
- Trump did not explain how Huawei can go from being a national security threat to then having its restrictions lifted.
- His administration has been trying to treat Huawei and the trade dispute as separate issues, but Trump keeps undermining this effort.
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US President Donald Trump has made his first meaningful remarks on the Huawei firestorm since his administration blacklisted the Chinese tech giant last week.
The president was speaking at a news conference announcing a $16 billion aid package for farmers caught up in the China trade war when he addressed Huawei, which has been placed on a list that means US firms need permission to do business with the Chinese company.
Trump started out by saying that Huawei poses a huge security threat to the US. US officials have long floated suspicions that Huawei acts as a conduit for Chinese surveillance.
"Huawei is something that's very dangerous. You look at what they've done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint, it's very dangerous," the president told reporters.
He then immediately switched gears to suggest that Huawei could form part of a trade deal with America and China. "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," he said.
Here's a transcript of the full exchange:
Trump: "Huawei is something that's very dangerous. You look at what they've 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 can go from being a "very dangerous" national security threat, to then potentially having its restrictions lifted so that it can become a key cog in a trade settlement between the US and China.
Russell Brandom, the policy editor for tech news site The Verge, said the two remarks are "incompatible." In an op-ed, 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 last year. 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 on Thursday linked the issues of Huawei and the China trade war even more directly.
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