Bolton: If American Company Had Done What the DoJ Accused Huawei, CFO of, ‘We’d Throw the Book at Them’

During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” National Security Advisor John Bolton discussed the ongoing saga between Huawei, whose CFO is awaiting extradition from Canada to the United States.

Bolton discussed the threat of Huawei to U.S. national security and claimed the indictment of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, on fraud charges, wasn’t a “political act.”

Partial transcript as follows:

BARTIROMO: Well, you know, the work that is left to be done is really what we want to focus on because we have been covering this China story now for more than a year-and-a-half.

And I think it’s the biggest story of our time. And, of course, now we know the Chinese telecom giant Huawei is suing the United States government. The Chinese foreign minister has spoken in support of Huawei’s lawsuit against the United States, praising the company for refusing to suffer U.S. attacks like silent lambs.

What’s your reaction to the lawsuit against the U.S. government?

BOLTON: Well, you know, there are a couple of aspects to this.

Number one, the United States, along with a number of other countries, allies, and friends of ours, sometime back decided not to procure Huawei equipment for our national security-related telecommunication systems, and I think for very, very good reasons.

People sometimes call the concern the Manchurian chip problem, that something gets into the telecommunication system that can be activated down the road.

BARTIROMO: Right.

BOLTON: This is a very serious threat. So, let Huawei do whatever legal maneuvers they want to do. I’m confident of the outcome of that.

You know, the Justice Department also indicted the chief financial officer of Huawei. That wasn’t a political act either. She was accused of financial fraud. The extradition proceedings have begun in Canada.

If an American company, with an American CFO, had done what the Justice Department accused Huawei of, we’d throw the book at them. It’s just as simple as that. So I don’t think anybody is going to argue — at least, I would be surprised if they did — that a foreign company or a foreign CFO ought to get better treatment than an American company and an American CFO would get.

BARTIROMO: Well, it’s bigger than that.

I mean, this company is saying that the U.S. is destroying Huawei’s reputation. We had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the studio just two weeks ago when he came back from his Europe trip, and he basically told our European friends, if you’re using Huawei Telecom infrastructure, we’re probably going to have to share less information with you because these are national security risks.

How much of a threat in terms of national security is Huawei’s telecom?

BOLTON: Well, it’s significant. And that’s why we suspended U.S. government procurement of their systems.

This is particularly applicable in fifth-generation telecommunications, where the presence of suspect material really almost anywhere in the system, not at the key communications nodes, but throughout the system, can be used for espionage or disruption purposes.

This is the Manchurian chip issue. So this is a very serious problem. We’re in intense discussions, absolutely unrelated to trade issues, with friends and allies and partners all over the world on how to deal with this. Nobody should minimize how serious this is.

It’s not just China we’re worried about, let’s be clear. We’re worried about compromising the security of sensitive American communications really on a global basis.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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