China denies Trump spying report, suggests change of phones

Charlene Craig
October 28, 2018

A New York Times report has claimed that when US President Donald Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to "gossip or gripe", Chinese and Russian spies were routinely eavesdropping on the calls.

South China Morning Post reports that Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said that if Trump is anxious about his iPhone being tapped, he should switch to Huawei (the implication being that a Huawei phone would be more secure).

"American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russian Federation were eavesdropping on the president's cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials", the daily added.

"White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them", the news agency reports. "Just more made up Fake News!"

Trump uses the phones to speak to "old friends", and domestic spy agencies have determined China is seeking to use information from the calls to keep a trade war with the US from escalating, the paper said, citing unidentified current and former USA officials.

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"The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it", Trump said in a predawn tweet.

Trump pushed back against the idea that he uses insecure cellphones, tweeting Thursday that he only uses government phones "and have only one seldom used government cell phone".

Beijing particularly is trying to use what it learns to prevent the current trade war between the two countries from escalating further, according to the newspaper.

"I would like to say that this only provides another piece of evidence of the New York Times concocting fake news".

By identifying friends of Trump who rely on Chinese business, the strategy is to "feed arguments" via these individuals in an effort to deliver a Beijing's views through trusted mouthpieces, according to the report.

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Officials said the President has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their abilities and a third personal phone.

The White House is yet to respond to requests for comments regarding the report.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has come under scrutiny in the United States where intelligence agency leaders and others have said they are concerned that Huawei and other Chinese companies may be beholden to the Chinese government or ruling Communist Party, raising the risk of espionage.

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