China denies spying on Trump's cellphone, suggests change of phones
Trump continues to make unsecure calls despite warnings, the New York Times reported
Taking a page from the U.S. president's own playbook, China on Thursday denounced a U.S. newspaper report that it is listening to Donald Trump's phone calls as "fake news," and suggested he exchange his iPhone for a cellphone made by Chinese manufacturer Huawei.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying did not provide any evidence or cite any specifics in her dismissal of the report in The New York Times. China tightly censors domestic media and routinely rejects critical foreign media reporting about the ruling Communist Party as biased or fabricated.
Hua told reporters that the journalists behind the report "are sparing no efforts to win the Academy Award for best screenplay."
"Firstly, The New York Times should know that such report just provides another piece of evidence that the NYT is making fake news," Hua said at a daily news briefing. In accusing the newspaper of fabricating news, Hua used language similar to Trump's, who has often accused the "failing" New York Times of fabricating stories.
"Secondly, I suggest they replace their iPhone with Huawei ones if they are really concerned about security issues," Hua said.
A 2012 report by a congressional panel said Huawei's equipment was a security risk.
China, Russia listening in, Times reports
If the U.S. is still concerned about security, Trump could "abandon all modern communication devices and cut off contact with the outside completely," Hua said.
The Times reported that American intelligence reports said Chinese and Russian spies are listening in when Trump calls friends on one of his iPhones and is using the information to try to influence him and impact administration policy.
The New York 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. Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized. I like Hard Lines. Just more made up Fake News!—@realDonaldTrump
Trump pushed back against the idea that he uses insecure cellphones, tweeting Thursday that he only uses government phones "and have only one seldom used government cellphone."
China has long been accused of efforts to target U.S. government, military and commercial entities with cyberattacks. In 2015, a massive hack of the federal Office of Personnel Management, widely blamed on China's government, compromised personal information of more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees, including those in the Pentagon.