A State Department official has underlined US national security concerns about Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, stressing that problems with the company go far beyond the current trade dispute between the two countries. Ashley Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, said countries which chose Huawei technology were opening the door to a potential threat to their national security and economic well-being. The problem with companies like Huawei was not specifically a technical one, but instead “a political and a geopolitical challenge”, Ford told a security conference for US allies in Washington on Wednesday. As long as companies like Huawei were subject to the final authority and influence of the Chinese Communist Party, they could not be trusted by the US or its allies, he said. Trump’s blacklisting of Huawei unfair and un-American, Microsoft president says “If a Chinese technology giant has access to your technology, your information, or your networks and the party comes asking, the only answer the company can give is ‘Yes.’ This is, unfortunately, a fact of life in the high-technology police state that is the modern PRC.” Ford said Huawei and other Chinese tech firms – like Tencent, ZTE, Alibaba, and Baidu – were helping China to create “technology-facilitated surveillance and social control”, and accused Ecuador, Venezuela, and Pakistan of purchasing “repression-facilitating technologies” from these firms. The South China Morning Post is owned by Alibaba. “As these companies export their products and services to the rest of the world, the security and human rights problems associated with this “China Model” are progressively exported with them.” Ford was addressing the State Department’s Multilateral Action on Sensitive Technologies (MAST) conference ahead of an expected meeting next month between US and Chinese trade negotiators. As part of the preparations for the resumed trade talks, China has offered to buy more American agricultural products in exchange for a delay in tariffs and an easing of the supply ban against Huawei. US actions against Huawei have escalated since the US-China trade war kicked off more than a year ago, and there has been little let-up in the pressure on the company. Last December, Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the behest of the US, which accused her of violating US sanctions against Iran. In May, the US banned American suppliers of parts and components from selling to Huawei and 70 of its affiliates without government approval. US President Donald Trump relented on the ban in June, following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 in Osaka, and allowed Huawei to purchase some equipment from the US, provided there was “no great national security problem” with the products. In his speech to the MAST conference, Ford said he hoped to convey the “depth and seriousness of the Huawei problem” and to clear up confusion “on the part of those who imagine that our problems with that company are at root only economic or commercial, stemming merely from more general US trade and tariff disputes with China”. “This is far from being the case: Unfortunately, Huawei also presents deep national security and foreign policy problems,” he said. Trump says the US does not want to discuss Huawei with China Ford also accused China of using Huawei and the other big tech firms to advance its military modernisation programme, “which is quite contrary to security interests we all share”. He said the Chinese system of “military-civil fusion” made it difficult – “and in many cases impossible” – to engage with China’s hi-tech sector without supporting Beijing’s ongoing efforts to develop or acquire cutting-edge technologies for its armed forces. “The augmentation of those armed forces is itself intimately tied to the Chinese Communist Party’s strategic agenda of refashioning the current global order into a more Sinocentric form,” Ford said. On Thursday the Financial Times reported the State Department was compiling a list of companies with direct, and indirect, connections to China’s military to prevent them from accessing “sensitive technologies” and to protect US supply chains, according to multiple anonymous sources.