US FCC Classifies Huawei and ZTE as Security Threats, Cuts off Funding

Joanna Estrada
June 30, 2020

The US Federal Communications Commission has blacklisted Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE and their subsidiaries as "national security threats", barring US firms from using government funds to do business with them.

"With today's Orders, and based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the Bureau has designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks to America's communications networks-and to our 5G future", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in the release. The $8.5 billion fund is the FCC's main way of purchasing and subsidizing equipment and services to improve connectivity across the country.

"We can not and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure", the Republican-majority FCC said in a separate statement.

In May 2019, the FCC voted to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide U.S. services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the company to conduct espionage against the USA government. "Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China's military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country's intelligence services".

Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment but have previously sharply criticized the FCC's actions.

While Pai cited "the overwhelming weight of evidence" to support the FCC's move, USA intelligence agencies' claims that Chinese telecom equipment is riddled with backdoors funneling sensitive data back to Beijing have yet to be supported with evidence. In a public statement, FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, explained that labeling the companies threats is a start, but that there is a great deal of Huawei and ZTE equipment already in use that needs to be identified and replaced. The company has repeatedly denied that it poses any security risk, and insists that it's independent of the Beijing government.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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