Huawei rift not part of U.S.-China trade war: U.S. official
“We need to make sure that people do not think this is part of a trade war [or] trade discussions,” Robert Strayer, the U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of cyber and international communications and information policy told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Friday.
“This is about our national security.”
The Americans’ ongoing trade discussions with China have run parallel to the country’s hardline stance on Huawei’s involvement in the future rollout of 5G technology in the U.S.
Bills were introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Tuesday to keep restrictions in place on the Chinese technology giant and ensure that it remains blacklisted from doing business with American companies.
Meanwhile, U.S. senior officials confirmed this week that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke on the phone this week with their Chinese counterparts amid renewed efforts to reach a trade deal between the two countries.
“There are very important issues in those trade discussions, like the improper transfer of intellectual property, joint venture requirements that are going to China. Those are trade issues,” Strayer said.
He added it’s the responsibility of government officials like himself to help separate the two issues.
“I think that as we get out there as diplomats and talk to governments around the world, they’re beginning to understand where we’re coming from and why we’re making ourselves so clear with regard to the future of 5G technology.”
As the two world powerhouses hash out a deal, however, Canada remains caught in the middle following the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December. China has responded with the detention of two Canadians. Export relations between Canada and China have also been hindered by the latter country’s sanctions on Canadian canola in March and meat products in June.
Still, Canada remains among the countries that has not made a decision on whether or not to allow Huawei equipment in its planned rollout of 5G.
Strayer says that the U.S. must put its own security needs first if and when allies such as Canada or the United Kingdom allow Huawei access to its 5G networks.
“We understand the U.K. and a number of other governments are still in the process of making a decision about how they, in their own sovereign rights, will decide how to protect their nation’s telecommunications equipment,” Strayer said.
“But, we have said that we need to protect our national security and other important information, and will have to reassess how we’re sharing information with other governments if they do use Huawei equipment.”