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US Congress introduce bills targeting China’s Huawei

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Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives have introduced bills to keep tight restrictions on Huawei Technologies, amid concern about President Trump’s easing of curbs on the Chinese firm.

The legislation would, among other things, bar the removal of the telecommunications equipment firm from the Commerce Department trade blacklist without House and Senate approval. The bills would also let Congress disallow waivers granted to US companies doing business with the Chinese company.

The US has accused Huawei of stealing American intellectual property and violating Iran sanctions. The Republicans and Democrats backing the measures said they viewed the company as a security threat.

“American companies shouldn’t be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they’ll use to spy on Americans,” said Republican Senator Tom Cotton in a statement.

In May, the country placed Huawei on the Commerce Department's so-called ‘Entity list’ over national security concerns. Generally, US parts and components cannot be sold to those on the list without special licences.

The ‘Defending America’s 5G Future Act’ was introduced in the Senate by Republicans Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney and Democrats Chris Van Hollen, Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal.

A companion bill was introduced in the House by Democratic Representatives Jimmy Panetta and Ruben Gallego and Republicans Mark Gallagher and Liz Cheney.

Furthermore, Washington has launched a lobbying effort to persuade US allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure, citing concerns that the company could spy on customers. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday that the US should immediately cease its “suppression” of Huawei.

Geng said that relevant US legislators were “clinging to a Cold War mentality” in trying to contain China’s development, and that such actions “seriously damaged the United States’ national image”.

In April, the US said it will reconsider its data sharing arrangements with allies, such as the UK, who opt to use Huawei to help build elements of their 5G networks.

Meanwhile in the UK, the government has yet to decide on Huawei’s role in building 5G networks in the country. However, speaking to E&T, Huawei UK CEO Jerry Wang has suggested that cutting the company out of new 5G infrastructure would be a greater blow for the country than for Huawei.

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