A cameraman records during Huawei stream product launch event in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2020

US Senate unanimously backs tighter Huawei restrictions

Image credit: REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

The US Senate has unanimously voted to approve legislation which would prevent companies deemed threats to national security, including Shenzhen-based Huawei, from being granted new equipment licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Secure Equipment Act would prohibit the FCC from considering or authorising use of products from companies deemed a threat and included on its 'covered list' (which it is required to maintain under the 2019 Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act).

Companies on the list include Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE, which were formally designated national security threats by US authorities last year. In March, three further Chinese companies were added to the list: Hytera, Hangzhou Hikvision, and Zhejiang Dahua.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Republican Mario Rubio, who is vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Democrat Ed Markey. Both issued statements welcoming the approval of the act by their peers.

“China’s state-directed companies like Huawei and ZTE are known national security threats and have no place in our telecommunications network,” said Rubio. “I am grateful that the Senate and House passed this bill, which will help keep compromised equipment from bad actors out of critical American infrastructure. Now, President Biden must swiftly sign it into law so that the Chinese Communist Party can no longer exploit this dangerous loophole.”

Huawei has maintained that it is an independent company and has rejected the claims made against it by US authorities.

Markey added: “In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values. That’s why our bipartisan legislation will keep compromised equipment out of US telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the US. I’m proud to have helped lead this effort and I thank my colleagues in both chambers of Congress for passing our bill. I stand ready to now work with the Biden administration and the FCC to implement this critical national security measure.”

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming vote of 420-4. Having received unanimous support from the Senate, it will now go to President Joe Biden for executive approval.

Speaking in June, following the FCC’s moves to ban approvals for equipment in US telecommunications infrastructure from 'covered' Chinese companies, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “The US, without any evidence, still abuses national security and state power to suppress Chinese companies.”

Meanwhile, Huawei has reported a 32 per cent drop on 2020 sales, following the sale of its budget Honor smartphone brand and the tightening of US sanctions.

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