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China suggests Trump 'can use Huawei' after iPhone tapping report

It was reported that Chinese spies are listening to the president's personal conversations.

President Trump at his desk in the Oval Office

In the Oval Office, President Trump can rely on his landline.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Responding to a report that President Donald Trump's personal iPhone was tapped by its spies, China suggested that he switch to Huawei.

"If they are very worried about iPhones being tapped, they can use Huawei," said Hua Chunying, deputy director of the Chinese foreign ministry information department, according to a Thursday morning tweet by The Washington Post's Luna Lin.

Hua also dismissed the Wednesday New York Times report that China's spies are listening in on Trump's conversations on his Apple device as "fake news," the South China Morning Post reported.

"Seeing this report, I feel there are those in America who are working all-out to win the Oscar for best screenplay," she reportedly said at the ministry's regular briefing in Beijing.

Trump tweeted his response to the Times report early Thursday.

"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," he wrote. "I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!"

The New York Times stood behind its article.

"We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself," said Danielle Rhoades Ha, its vice president for corporate communications, in an emailed statement.

"It is also worth noting that China did not explicitly deny its intelligence agents eavesdropped on President Trump's cellphone conversations."

Hua's comment is pointed since Chinese device maker Huawei, whose Mate 20 Pro arrived in Europe last week, has long dealt with security concerns regarding ties to China's communist government. US lawmakers have had Huawei in their sights for years, but 2018 has seen tensions grow as the country entered a trade war with China.

In February, the heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA used congressional testimony to warn consumers against purchasing Huawei phones. Over the summer, the Pentagon banned the sale of its phones on US military bases worldwide, and the government wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai to say that the partnership between Google and Huawei on instant messaging poses a serious threat to US national security and to consumers.

Huawei and fellow Chinese device maker ZTE were also called out during a Senate hearing on Facebook and Twitter in September. Both companies have regularly insisted that their consumer devices don't pose a security threat to the US.

Neither the White House nor Huawei immediately responded to requests for comment. China's foreign ministry information department didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

First published at 4:26 a.m. PT.
Update at 5:17 a.m. PT: Adds Trump tweet and Huawei background.
Update at 7:30 a.m. PT: Adds New York Times statement.

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