Proposed US bill forbids government contractors from using Huawei, ZTE tech

Audrey Hill
January 17, 2018

According to Reuters, U.S. lawmakers are pushing AT&T to cut ties to China's Huawei and to oppose plans by China Mobile to enter the U.S. market.

Texas representative Mike Conaway (R-TX 11th District) proposed a bill last week called the Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which primarily aims to ban the U.S. government from buying or using any phones, telecommunications equipment, or services supplied by Huawei and ZTE.

The government is telling companies that dealing with Huawei, China Mobile and other firms could harm their ability to procure government contracts. This seems more like a battle in a wider trade war than something related to spying. Although ZTE and Huawei are supposedly private companies, ZTE is state-owned and was founded by investors associated with China's aerospace ministry; Huawei was started by an ex-Chinese military engineer, and has what has been described as an "opaque" corporate structure.

It was rumored at the time that AT&T removed itself from talks with Huawei due to pressure from certain federal regulators, and a report from Reuters appears to confirm that is indeed the case. Lawmakers in the U.S, who in the past have expressed concerns over the prospect of the deal between Huawei and AT&T, either would not comment or were not available.

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The trade war works both ways: Google and Facebook have always been banned from the China market. But it compounds the notion that Huawei is bad news for the USA, which will be particularly disappointing to its mobile division lead Richard Yu, who spoke on stage about the company's commitment to security at CES only a few days ago. Conaway specifically repeats the President Donald Trump's views on China as the country is trying to "compromise the integrity of United States businesses and spy on our closely held national security secrets", he said.

Michael Wessel, from the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, told Reuters: "The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications". China Mobile has wanted to do business in the USA since at 2011, but some lawmakers insist their introduction risks damaging national security as well, Reuters reported.

Conway's bill would prohibit the United States government from purchasing and using "telecommunications equipment and/or services", from Huawei and ZTE. Lawmakers are reportedly going even further, pushing the country's second largest carrier to cut more ties with the company.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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