Mnuchin says Huawei won’t be ‘chess piece’ in trade talks

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that negotiations between the U.S. and China over issues around telecommunications giant Huawei are “ongoing,” stressing the Chinese company will not be used as a “chess piece” in the trade deal that was signed Wednesday.

“I don’t view Huawei as a chess piece,” Mnuchin said during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “What I do think, and we have said this repeatedly across the administration: our national security issues are our primary concern. So, when it comes to our government networks, when it comes to sophisticated business networks, military networks and networks of all of our allies, we want to make sure that those networks are fully secure.”

Mnuchin’s comments came hours before U.S. officials signed a “phase one” trade deal with China. A second deal, addressing issues such as cybersecurity and tech – including potentially Huawei – is still to come.

“Huawei is not part of the economic dialogue, it is part of the national security dialogue, which is ongoing,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “These are going to be negotiated separately.”

Federal concerns around Huawei have built over the past year, as the Trump administration and bipartisan members of Congress have taken steps against the telecommunications company, which is one of the largest telecom product manufacturers in the world.