The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally designated Chinese’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE as posing threats to US national security, a declaration that bars US firms from tapping an US$8.3-billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.
The US telecommunications regulator voted in November 5-0 to issue the declaration and proposed requiring rural carriers to remove and replace equipment from the two Chinese companies from existing US networks. “We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Tuesday.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment but have previously sharply criticised the FCC’s actions.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said on Tuesday that “untrustworthy equipment” remains in place in US networks and said the US congress must allocate funding for replacements.
In May 2019, Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecoms equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The Trump administration also added Huawei to its trade blacklist last year.
The FCC has taken an increasingly hard line against Chinese firms.
In April, the FCC said it may shut down US operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecoms companies. It required China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) to explain why it should not start the process of revoking authorisations enabling their US operations.
The FCC granted its approvals to the firms more than a decade ago.
In May 2019, the FCC voted to deny another state-owned Chinese telecoms company, China Mobile, the right to provide US services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the company to conduct espionage against the US government. — Reported by David Shepardson, (c) 2020 Reuters