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Chinese smartphone maker Huawei planned to circumvent Trump admin ban and sell in U.S. covertly

By Jon Dougherty

(NationalSentinel) Despite being banned by the Trump administration from selling its products in the United States, China-based Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, planned to circumvent the ban anyway by using a Mexican conduit.

Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon reports that the plan is to disguise the phones as non-Huawei devices, but it was discovered last month by U.S. intelligence agencies who have since alerted the Trump administration to the plan:

According to the officials, the Shenzhen, China-based company planned to ship a large number of its smartphones to Mexico where the smartphones would be re-labeled and shipped into the United States.

As non-Huawei devices, there would be no prohibition on selling them in the United States.

The phones, however, could be identified as Huawei devices by examining their electronic components that can be traced to the Chinese telecom.

No other details of the plan are known, but it’s clear that the Chinese are working to subvert the Trump administration’s ban on selling Huawei phones in the U.S. by any means possible, which indicates that concerns about Beijing using the company’s products as espionage tools is legitimate.

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The national security concerns regarding Huawei aren’t new, by the way. As Gertz noted, in 2008 the company was forced to abandon efforts to buy the U.S. telecom company 3Com for that reason. And two years later, Huawei was pressured into abandoning another bid to purchase 3Leaf, a U.S. server technology company.

More recently, Trump in May put sanctions on the company that are aimed at preventing any use of the company’s products in the U.S. while blocking American technology companies from selling computer chips to Huawei. He also issued an executive order banning U.S. telecoms from buying any equipment supplied by potential adversaries.

On Friday, the president was asked about doing business with Huawei. He said flatly: “We’re not going to do business with Huawei.”

“And I really made the decision,” he added. “It’s much simpler not to do any business with Huawei, so we’re not doing business with Huawei. That doesn’t mean we won’t agree to something if and when we make a trade deal, but we’re not going to be doing business with Huawei.”

The decision comes amid an escalating trade war with China. After the president said he would add a 10 percent tariff to the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese goods imported into the U.S. that had yet to be sanctioned, Beijing canceled all orders for U.S. agricultural products.

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who once headed the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in The Hill in June that any future trade agreement with China, if one emerges, should never include doing business with Huawei:

Put simply, Huawei is a national security and intelligence issue. It is not a football to be thrown around in trade discussions with China. 

Over the last 18 months, we have seen significant progress, albeit with fits and starts, on educating Congress, the public, and our partners and allies of just how significant a threat Huawei is to our collective security. It is, for all intents and purposes, an arm of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. It is a tool of the stated goal of Beijing to achieve “digital dominance” by 2025 and aims to control the flow of data worldwide to benefit China.

As a company, Huawei acts much less like a global business and far more like a nation-state intelligence apparatus of a criminal syndicate. If you are still not convinced, read the federal indictment of Huawei from the Justice Department. Huawei conducts corporate and industrial espionage, usurps national laws, pays bribes, and violates sanctions. We have finally seen the fruits of our campaign to shed light on all this.

This would explain why Beijing is so interested in getting Huawei products into the U.S. market. As the No. 2 smartphone maker in the world, it’s not like Huawei needs the business.

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