The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to ban all sales of new Huawei and ZTE telecommunications devices in the US. This will be the first time the FCC bans electronics equipment on national security grounds.
The Chinese companies were already called security threats back in 2020, and now the agency is expected to forbid the sale of new products produced by such entities.
Researchers, analysts, and intelligence agencies have been warning for years that the Chinese government might use Chinese-made devices to spy on Americans. Huawei and ZTE were among Chinese telecommunications companies targeted by the Trump administration.
The Biden White House has not changed track, and the Secure Equipment Act signed into law last November by the US president required the FCC to pass the rules within a year.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, called on the agency in March 2021 to close the so-called “Huawei loophole” which allowed companies to use private sector money to buy equipment from the firm because the FCC still authorized sales of its devices.
To be fair, Axios cites sources claiming that the upcoming ban is not retroactive – so the Chinese companies can continue to sell products that the FCC previously approved.
In other words, the new policy only applies to new Huawei and ZTE models. This still means the decision has been made to cut off Huwaei and ZTE from the American market.
Last week, the Biden administration also announced it would restrict the sale of certain chip technology to Chinese companies. The US government wants to slow China’s progress in supercomputing.
Besides, Washington is also increasing pressure on a popular Chinese-owned viral video app TikTok – over fears that it could expose Americans' data to Beijing. Negotiations are ongoing.
The US government is by all means not the only one restricting market access to Chinese telecommunications companies.
In July 2021, The United Kingdom ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027 before Swedish regulators also banned the use of telecom equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network.
Western governments and experts claim Chinese companies pose a clear security threat because both Chinese firms and citizens must by law aid the state in intelligence gathering.
Mika Lauhde, VP of Cyber Security & Privacy and Global Public Affairs at Huawei, interviewed by Cybernews last year, admitted that the pressure from the US towards the UK and all the European countries, and China as well, is just increasing. “At the end of the day it will be the taxpayer who pays the bill,” Lauhde said.
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