US bans Chinese telecom equipment citing 'national security'

US bans Chinese telecom equipment citing ‘national security’

The decision by the US Federal Communications Commission includes devices from Huawei, ZTE and other manufacturers.

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it is banning telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from leading Chinese brands, including Huawei and ZTE, citing an “unacceptable risk to national security.”

The five-judge FCC said Friday it voted unanimously to adopt new rules that will block the importation or sale of the targeted products.

“Our unanimous decision marks the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of communications and electronic devices based on national security considerations,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement Friday.

He added that the move has “broad bipartisan support” among the leadership of the US Congress.

US security officials have warned that equipment from Chinese brands such as Huawei could be used to jam fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks and collect sensitive information.

The ban is the latest step in a years-long effort to “keep America’s networks secure” by identifying and banning devices deemed security threats, the FCC said.

Friday’s initiative also includes banning Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company and Dahua Technology Company.

Huawei declined to provide a report to Reuters. ZTE, Dahua, Hikvision and Hytera did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Huawei and the Chinese government have long denied accusations of espionage and condemned US sanctions against Chinese technology.

However, in 2019, then-US President Donald Trump signed the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which established criteria for identifying communications services that Washington believed could pose a risk to national security.

Services designated as threats under that law were then subject to the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden.

That act set the stage for Friday’s announcement. He ordered the FCC to “adopt rules clarifying that it will no longer review or issue new device licenses” to these companies.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio welcomed Biden’s decision at the time.

“The Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to abuse our laws and undermine our national security,” he said in a statement. “This legislation fixes a dangerous loophole in our law and curbs their efforts to penetrate our telecommunications networks.”

Huawei, one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment makers, has an established relationship with the US and its allies and is facing some of the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a single US company.

Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou has been arrested and detained in Canada for nearly three years after the US Department of Justice accused her of trying to violate sanctions by attempting to conduct trade negotiations with Iran.

She was indicted on bank and bank fraud charges and faced US extradition proceedings in a Canadian court, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Canada, the US and China. Meng was released and returned to China in 2021.

Earlier this year, Canada joined the US in banning Huawei from using 5G wireless networks.

Additional FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called Friday’s ban a precautionary measure that would pay off in the future.

“By preventing a device identified as a threat to the United States from entering our markets, we significantly reduce the risk that it could be used against us,” Starks said in a statement. “We also reduce the possibility of having to tear apart and replace this device in the future. Ultimately, if it can’t be authorized, it can’t be deployed.”

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