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China dismisses claim it eavesdropped on Trump's iPhone calls

Donald Trump hangs up after a call in the Oval Office. Photo: EPA

Beijing has dismissed a US newspaper report alleging Chinese intelligence eavesdropped on Donald Trump’s calls and suggested the US president should switch to a Chinese phone.

The New York Times cited anonymous officials who said China and Russia had listened in to Trump’s frequent phone calls with friends and allies made on his iPhone, and used the information gleaned to shape interactions with the US.

When asked about the report at a regular news briefing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said: “Certain people in the US are sparing no efforts to win the best screenplay award at the Oscars.”

Hua offered three recommendations to the newspaper and the Trump administration. “First, the New York Times should know if they publish this type of report it provides another piece of evidence of the New York Times making fake news,” she said, using one of Trump’s favourite phrases to disparage unflattering articles.

“Second, if they are worried about Apple phones being listened in on, they should swap them with Huawei phones,” Hua said, referring to one of China’s largest telecommunications firms, which has been largely blocked from the US market over national security concerns.

Lastly, Hua said, “they should stop using any modern communication equipment and cut off contact with the outside” if they wanted to ensure absolute security.

Russia, too, dismissed the eavesdropping allegations. “We already treat these sort of stories with a certain humour,” said the presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “We regret this newspaper unthinkingly publishes information which most likely indicates a decline in journalistic standards.”

The New York Times report provided few details on how China and Russia were allegedly monitoring Trump’s communications, aside from noting that the calls were intercepted as they travelled through the US phone network.

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