May 20, 2019 / 3:31 AM / a month ago

U.S. senator convening meetings to warn business, academia of China threat

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) talks with military families about their hazardous living conditions during a meeting at the Peninsula Workforce Development Office in Newport News, Virginia, U.S. March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Ryan M. Kelly/Files

(Reuters) - U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on Sunday that he has been organizing meetings between U.S. intelligence officials and the country’s business and academic communities to urge caution in their relationships with China.

“I have been convening meetings between the intelligence community and outside stakeholders in business and academia to ensure they have the full threat picture and hopefully, make different decisions about Chinese partnerships,” Warner said in a statement.

Accusing China of undermining U.S. security, Warner, a Democrat, said the meetings were aimed at increasing awareness about tactics used by China against the United States.

In a series of classified briefings with U.S. companies, the country’s intelligence heads have warned about potential risks of doing business with China, the Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday.

The briefings to educational institutions, venture capitalists and technology firms have been given by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with officials from the FBI and the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, the FT reported, citing officials who attended the briefings.

The development comes as the United States and China have been engaged in trade tensions for months over issues including technology, cyber security, tariffs, industrial subsidies and intellectual property rights.

On Thursday, the United States added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts.

The move came amid concerns from the U.S. that Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.

The decision was slammed by China, which said it will take steps to protect its companies.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Mark Hosenball and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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