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Huawei ‘Not a Chess Piece’ in China Trade Deal, Mnuchin Says

Mario Parker
Huawei ‘Not a Chess Piece’ in China Trade Deal, Mnuchin Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S.-China trade pact avoids dealing with issues over Huawei Technologies Co.’s access to American markets and suppliers, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“I don’t view Huawei as a chess piece,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday.

Questions about the Chinese gearmaker’s access to U.S. markets will be dealt with separately as a national security issue, Mnuchin said, not in the first phase of an agreement with China that is set to be signed in Washington on Wednesday -- or in any subsequent phase.

“Our national security issues are our primary concern,” Mnuchin said. “So when it comes to our government networks, when it comes to sophisticated business networks, military networks, and networks of all of our allies we want to make sure those networks are fully secure.”

President Donald Trump’s administration in May moved to restrict U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei and another Chinese company ZTE Corp. The administration has said Huawei gear could be used for spying -- an allegation the company denied.

The U.S. has been pressing allies, most prominently the U.K., to prevent the Chinese company’s products from being used in 5G networks because it presents a security risk. The U.S. has warned intelligence sharing in future could be at risk if Britain does not ban the company.

Mnuchin said that those security concerns will not be addressed as part of the trade negotiations with China. “Huawei is not part of the economic dialogue,” he said. “It is part of the national security dialogue which is ongoing.”

(Updates with additional Mnuchin comments starting in fourth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mario Parker in Washington at mparker22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Wasserman at ewasserman2@bloomberg.net, ;Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Kathleen Hunter

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