Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has denied supporting notorious Chinese tech giant Huawei after his social media post appeared to praise the company in comparison to its American competitor, AT&T.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Gingrich said “People have completely reversed the meaning of my tweet I am deeply opposed to Huawei and have spent the last year and a half trying to get an effective us policy on 5G and we still don’t have one.”
“Huawei is an enormous threat to our national security, said the former Speaker. “We have to find a strategy to defeat them. I was tweeting about the gap in our big telecoms’ inability to compete.”
In a tweet posted yesterday, Gingrich drew attention to Huawei’s distribution of medical equipment to help other countries fight the Wuhan coronavirus, a comment that drew criticism from other conservatives who accused him of praising the widely criticized Chinese telecoms giant.
“The contrast between Huawei offering medical equipment to help countries while AT&T has its handout for billions from the taxpayer is very disturbing,” tweeted Gingrich. “Our once great telecommunications companies have lost the entrepreneurial drive that let them lead the world.”
The contrast between Huawei offering medical equipment to help countries while AT&T has its handout for billions from the taxpayer is very disturbing. Our once great telecommunications companies have lost the entrepreneurial drive that let them lead the world.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) March 24, 2020
Gingrich did not explain what alleged billion-dollar handout that AT&T has received. There have been no news reports of any such handout.
The former speaker’s tweet attracted criticism from Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who argued that Huawei is simply participating in Beijing’s propaganda campaign.
Huawei is only giving medical equipment as part of a propaganda effort by the #ChineseCommunistParty to distract from their role in unleashing the virus.
US Telecoms should focus on ensuring our infrastructure works during this crisis. https://t.co/NwYAAxGU63
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) March 24, 2020
Adam Segal, a China expert and director at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations concurs with Banks’ analysis, telling the Irish Times that Huawei is “taking the lead from the Chinese government, which wants to shift the story from the virus originating in China to China playing a role in supporting global health and leading on this stage.”
Conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter also slammed Gingrich for his apparent praise of “Communist China’s technology-stealing, spying telecommunications giant, Huawei,” calling it “worse than Sanders praising Fidel Castro.”
Newt praises Communist China's technology-stealing, spying telecommunications giant, Huawei.
This is worse than Sanders praising Fidel Castro. https://t.co/5HRUvYpGZg
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) March 24, 2020
In contrast to Gingrich’s tweet, AT&T has in fact taken a number of steps in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The company canceled plans to accelerate share buybacks, something that other corporations, notably Boeing, have recently been criticized for.
AT&T also signed the FCC’s “Keep America Connected” pledge, a commitment to not terminate service to any business or residence unable to pay bills due to the pandemic, and to open its Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.”
In response to school closures in America, AT&T has also offered a range of eLearning services free of charge for 60 days.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.