US lawmakers introduce bills targeting China's Huawei, ZTE

January 17, 2019 08:55
US Republican Senator Tom Cotton has accused Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei as being an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party. Photo: Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of American lawmakers introduced bills on Wednesday that would ban the sale of US chips or other components to Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp or other Chinese telecoms firms that violate Washington's sanctions or export control laws, Reuters reports.

Senator Tom Cotton and Representative Mike Gallagher, both Republicans, along with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Ruben Gallego, both Democrats, introduced the bills which would require the US president to ban the export of American components to any Chinese telecoms company that breaches US sanctions, the report said.

The bills specifically cite ZTE and Huawei, both of which are viewed with suspicion in the United States because of fears that their switches and other gear could be used to spy on Americans. Both the firms have also been accused of failing to respect US sanctions on Iran.

“Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People’s Liberation Army,” Cotton wrote in a statement.

“If Chinese telecom companies like Huawei violate our sanctions or export control laws, they should receive nothing less than the death penalty - which this denial order would provide.”

The proposed law and investigation are two of several challenges that Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker, faces in the US market.

In addition to allegations of sanctions-busting and intellectual property theft, Washington has been pressing allies to refrain from buying Huawei’s switches and other gear because of fears they will be used by Beijing for espionage.

Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, denied this week that his company was used by the Chinese government to spy.

Canada detained Ren’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer, in December at the request of US authorities investigating an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade American sanctions against Iran.

Wednesday's proposed law was introduced shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported that US federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile and other US businesses.

According to the Journal, an indictment could be coming soon on allegations that Huawei stole T-Mobile technology, called Tappy, which mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones.

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