The Trump administration is hurting American jobs and companies by blacklisting Chinese telecom giant Huawei on what it believes are risks to U.S. national security, the chief security officer of Huawei USA told CNBC on Tuesday.
“If we hurt Americans to hurt China, we haven’t improved our position,” Huawei’s Andy Purdy, a former top cybersecurity official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in a “Squawk Box” interview.
“Two hundred American companies are waiting to sell nonstrategic parts to Huawei. Forty thousand American jobs are at risk, and if we have to, we will go overseas and buy them,” Purdy added.
The U.S. and China — locked in an 18-month long trade war — are working to complete a “phase one” agreement to get China to buy U.S. farm goods and address intellectual property protections. However, thornier issues of concern to the U.S., such as the communist Chinese government’s close ties to industry and its practice of subsidizing sectors, particularly in technology, are expected to be left for later.
President Donald Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed worry about Huawei unfairly getting a foothold in U.S. markets for smartphones and next-generation 5G wireless networks on the back of Chinese government help and about the possibility of China turning around and using that equipment for spying.
Huawei, the largest privately held company in China, has repeatedly said it would never help the Chinese government to spy.
However, to ease U.S. concerns, Purdy said that testing mechanisms can be put in place to ensure safety. “We’re happy to talk to the government about effective measures that can be implemented.”
The White House was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Back In May, the Trump administration placed Huawei and dozens of other Chinese firms on the Commerce Department’s so-called entity list, citing national security concerns. The move blocked Huawei from buying American software from companies like Alphabet’s Google and Micron without getting a U.S. government license. While exemptions have been made since then, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that licenses for U.S. companies to sell components to Huawei are coming “very shortly.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission plans to vote next week on whether to ban U.S. companies from using federal subsidies to buy equipment from Huawei and other companies deemed a national security threat.