China says Trump should swap iPhone for Huawei amid bugging claim

Hannah Rogers
October 28, 2018

The riposte came after a New York Times report that Chinese and Russian spies often secretly listened in on President Donald Trump when he used his unsecure Apple cellphone to gossip with old friends.

"I would like to say that this only provides another piece of evidence of the New York Times concocting fake news", said Chinese Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

The New York Times report is also remarkable, she said, because it shows that Trump's own person aides are so terrified by his behavior that they've leaked it to the press.

"If they are very anxious 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.

Wired took a more sober look at the accusations on Thursday, detailing some general concerns about intelligence agencies penetrating commercial cell phone systems and methods that might be theoretically used to monitor the calls of high-value government targets.

Trump repeatedly excoriated his Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, on the issue of secure communications, rebuking her for her use of a private email address and server while she was secretary of state.

Mr Trump called The Times report incorrect and dismissed it as "long and boring".

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Trump followed up about three hours later with a second tweet, saying that The Times "has a new Fake Story that now the Russians and Chinese (glad they finally added China) are listening to all of my calls on cellphones".

Meanwhile, Trump also repudiated the reported and tweeted "story is soooo wrong!" "We already treat such publications with humour", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, while not directly denying the report.

Earlier this month, China's USA ambassador Cui Tiankai said it was "very confusing" as to whom President Trump listened to on trade policy. "All in all, we, by this time, are treating such material with humor".

Trump is using insecure cellular networks to make his calls - so if his lines have been tapped, it's a flaw in the cellular network protocols, not his choice of an iPhone as his personal device.

The anonymous White House officials told The Times they were disclosing the president's cell phone habits because they've become increasingly frustrated with his lackadaisical tendencies towards electronic security and fear the national security risks it creates.

In 2012, a United States congressional panel said Huawei and ZTE should be barred from any mergers and acquisitions because they posed a security threat to the US.

"If Trump is concerned about the security of his iPhone, he can consider switching over to a Huawei, or cut off communications altogether".

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