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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Bipartisan effort urges president to support bans on Chinese telecom companies

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Citing significant threats to national security, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA) urged the president on Tuesday to reconsider lifting a ban on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE and to support banning government purchases of Huawei equipment.

The senators noted in a letter to President Donald Trump that the leaders of six intelligence agencies testified in February about national security risks posed by Chinese telecom companies like ZTE and Huawei. They urged the president to reverse his decision to lift a sanctions order on ZTE purchasing U.S. components, and to back a Senate-approved sanctions order on government purchases of Huawei equipment.

“As you know, this is not a new threat,” the letter stated. “Congressionally documented concerns date back to a 2012 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report on the serious counterintelligence concerns associated with ZTE equipment, the ties between the company and government, and the risks to American national security. ZTE, though publicly traded, is a state-backed enterprise that is ultimately loyal not to its shareholders, but to the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government.”

The patronage relationship between telecom companies and the Chinese government poses “unacceptable risks” to American sovereignty that will “only increase if the company is permitted to establish itself deeply in America’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

“We urge (the president) to heed the leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community, supported by a strong bipartisan consensus in the Senate, that we must pursue policies that prevent the widespread use of ZTE products in the U.S.,” the letter stated.