Congress May Ban Some Chinese Telecoms Gear From U.S. Market

A draft report from the House Intelligence Committee recommends that some equipment manufactured by Chinese IT giants Huawei and ZTE be barred from the U.S. Market because of worries that it could enable the Chinese government to spy on America and even disrupt vital infrastructure.

The two Chinese manufacturers “cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems,” the report said.  “U.S. network providers and system developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects.”

Statements from Huawei and ZTE denounced the report’s conclusions as “baseless” and dismissed suggestions that they were under Chinese government control.

Both companies have become major players in the global market for telecoms equipment and have recently stepped up efforts to break into the massive U.S. market. Huawei is the world’s second-biggest maker of telecoms gear after Sweden’s Ericsson, with ZTE coming in fifth.

In September, Huawei vice president Charles Ding testified before the committee that the company’s commitment to global expansion precludes any sort of  collusion that would harm its reputation customers:

“Huawei has not and will not jeopardize our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers’ networks for any third party, government or otherwise.”

The committee report said that both companies failed to provide sufficient details on their relationships with Chinese government officials and regulators.

TechCrunch notes that Huawei has gone to great lengths to ease security worries in the U.K., even  opening a certification and testing centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire, two years ago, and  hiring the former U.K. government CIO as its global cyber security officer last year.

Some observers suspect that the report has more to do with election-year China-bashing than national security, and worry that the appearance of protectionism could make life harder for U.S. companies’ efforts to expand in China, like Microsoft’s launch of Kinect for Windows into the Chinese market.

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