The US Federal Communications Commission is set to reject new telecom equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE in the United States on national security grounds, which it described as “untrustworthy”.
FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last week circulated the proposed ban to the other three commissioners for final approval. The companies would not be able to sell new equipment in the United States without equipment authorizations.
“The FCC remains committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” Rosenworcel said in a statement on Thursday.
The FCC faces a mid-November congressional deadline to act.
In June 2021, the FCC voted to advance the plan to ban approvals for equipment in US telecommunications networks from Chinese companies deemed national security threats, including Huawei and ZTE.
That came after a March 2021 designation of five Chinese companies on the so-called “covered list” as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting US communications networks: Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner said he was glad to see the FCC “finally take this step to protect our networks and national security.”
The FCC said in June 2021 it was considering banning all equipment authorizations for all companies on the covered list.
This year, the FCC added Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) Corp, China Mobile International USA, Pacific Networks Corp and China Unicom (Americas) to the covered list.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in 2021 the FCC had approved more than 3,000 applications from Huawei since 2018.
In 2019, the United States placed Huawei, Hikvision and other firms on its economic blacklist.
Also in 2020, the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats to communications networks – a declaration that barred US companies from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.
Earlier this year, the Chinese embassy in Washington said the FCC “abused state power and maliciously attacked Chinese companies again without factual basis”, echoing earlier claims that the US had played a ‘black hand’ against the telcos.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard