Bipartisan Legislation Targets Chinese Firm Huawei

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Congress wants to up its authority on emerging tech threats from China.

Lawmakers in the Senate and House introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday that directly targets Chinese-owned telecommunications company Huawei.

Introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., along with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Mark Warner, D-Va., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the Defending America’s 5G Future Act identifies Huawei as a national security threat and would do three things.

First, it would codify President Trump’s May executive order prohibiting the federal government from any transaction or use of technology that poses a national security risk. That order covers communications and information technology and other services designed, developed or produced by individuals or corporations connected to or controlled by foreign adversaries.

Secondly, the bill would “prohibit the removal of Huawei from the Commerce Department Entity List” without an act of Congress. Huawei’s inclusion on the Entity List prohibits U.S. companies from selling products to the company or its subsidiaries.

The legislation would also empower Congress to strike down any waivers this or future administrations may grant to U.S. companies that do business with Huawei.

“Huawei isn’t a normal business partner for American companies, it’s a front for the Chinese Communist Party. Our bill reinforces the president’s decision to place Huawei on a technology blacklist. American companies shouldn’t be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they’ll use to spy on Americans,” Cotton said in a statement.

The bill is the latest maneuver in a back-and-forth between the Trump administration and China in a trade battle and the manifestation of national security concerns posed by Huawei over many years. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited the use of federal funds to purchase products from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese telecoms. 

The bill already has support beyond the Senate. Companion legislation was introduced in the House Tuesday by Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.