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Huawei expansion in Western nations may be 'a Trojan horse,' warns a top GOP senator

Key Points
  • Sen. John Barrasso says he's troubled with the increased presence of Chinese tech giant Huawei in NATO countries.
  • "I have great concerns about Huawei and the threat that it would provide to our country," says Barrasso.
  • The Wyoming Republican also says Huawei "is not something that can be used as a bargaining chip" in U.S.-China trade talks.
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Watch CNBC's full interview with Senator John Barrasso on trade, Dem debates

The increased presence of Chinese tech giant Huawei around the world, including in NATO countries, is troubling, GOP Sen. John Barrasso told CNBC on Friday.

"Huawei is a true threat. It could be a Trojan horse," said the third-ranking member in the Senate Republican leadership.

The Trump administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are worried that Huawei's equipment, including smartphones and key networking gear for next generation 5G wireless, could be used by the Chinese communist government for spying.

Huawei has adamantly and repeatedly said it's separate from the Chinese government and it would not do its bidding.

However, the Wyoming senator remains unconvinced. "I have great concerns about Huawei and the threat that it would provide to our country."

Last month, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over threats against U.S. technology, leading the White House to effectively blacklist Huawei from conducting business with U.S. companies.

The Trump administration has tried to pressure other countries to follow suit but faced resistance from European Union allies, including Germany which laid out specific security standards for foreign vendors.

Huawei said Monday there's "no doubt" that it can meet the German requirements.

On Saturday at the G-20 summit in Japan, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to discuss their 11-month trade war, with Beijing seeking relief for Huawei as part of any deal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China will demand the U.S. remove its restrictions on the sale of American technology to Huawei.

If Trump were to accept those terms, that move would not sit well with Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Huawei "is not something that can be used as a bargaining chip in trade," he said.