Senators propose bill to block U.S. from using Huawei, ZTE

Updated 2018-02-09 10:45:07

Two Republican Senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would block the US government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies Co or ZTE Corp, citing concern the Chinese companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

"Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it's more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices," Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said.

"There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn't make it any easier for China to spy on us," he added.

The companies did not immediately comment.

The Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary on Thursday that the efforts to block Huawei and other Chinese companies showed the U.S. was worried about China's rapid development, and it called into question the U.S. commitment to market economics.

"U.S. President Trump always emphasizes 'fair trade'. From these cases it is clear that U.S.-style 'fair trade' sacrifices fairness to other countries," Xinhua said.

In 2012, they were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided a chance for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure, claims they have consistently denied.

The bill, which Cotton introduced together with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is similar to one introduced in January by two Republican lawmakers in the House, Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a harder line on policies initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama on issues like Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries.

Earlier this year, AT&T Inc was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources said.

The U.S. government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial's proposed purchase of U.S. money transfer firm MoneyGram International.

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