By Carlo Versano
China is responding to a revelatory report in The New York Times ー that said Chinese spies are allegedly eavesdropping on President Donald Trump during calls he makes on an unsecured iPhone ー by suggesting that the president use the device of a Chinese competitor instead.
"If they are very worried about iPhones being tapped, they can use Huawei," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.
Roger Cheng, executive editor at CNET called that "an epic amount of shade" being thrown by the Chinese at the U.S.
It comes after Huawei products were banned from official U.S. government use over concerns they can be compromised by the Chinese government. Huawei phones are effectively useless in the U.S. because of those concerns ー they aren't offered by major retailers or carriers ー even though the handset maker is the second-largest in the world behind Samsung.
"It's a bit of irony that they would throw that [suggestion] out there," said Chen.
The Times reported Wednesday that Trump has dismissed his aides' instruction to use secured phone lines for his personal calls and opted instead to carry at least one iPhone, no different from any other on the market, that he uses to call friends and gossip ー and which Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on in an effort to gauge how the president thinks.
But the ability to listen in on cellphone calls has less to do with the specific kind of phone and more to do with the fact that intercepting calls as they bounce around cell towers is a relatively simple element of spycraft "if you have the know-how and the resources," according to Chen. "And obviously the Chinese government has a lot of resources."
The Chinese government spokeswoman dismissed the report that Chinese spies were listening in on Trump as "fake news," using one of Trump's favorite phrases.
Trump called the Times report "soooo wrong!" in a tweet Thursday.
For full interview click here.