WASHINGTON: In light of the worsening relations between the United States and China, Washington has labeled Chinese tech companies, including Huawei, as national security threats.
“The (US) Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today released a list of communications equipment and services that have been deemed a threat to national security… The list includes five Chinese companies that produce telecommunications equipment and services that have been found to pose an unacceptable risk to US national security or the security and safety of US persons,” the FCC said in a statement on Friday.
President Joe Biden may be continuing his predecessor’s hardline stance against China’s growing technological dominance. The companies include Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, along with ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology.
“This list is a big step toward renewing trust in our communications networks Americans are relying on our networks more than ever to work, go to school, or access healthcare, and we need to trust that these communications are safe and secure,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
“This list provides meaningful guidance that will ensure that as next-generation networks are built across the country, they do not repeat the mistakes of the past or use equipment or services that will pose a threat to US national security or the security and safety of Americans,” she added.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the designation came atop a number of moves Washington made against Huawei during the Trump administration, including banning US firms from using the company’s technology to build wireless networks and placing the company on an entity list that prevents it from procuring US technology without government approval.Last December, Congress approved a US$1.9 billion fund to pay carriers to “rip and replace” Huawei and ZTE equipment from US networks.
The US is also seeking the extradition from Canada of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, on charges relating to wire fraud – a major source of tension between the US and Chinese governments.
At a briefing earlier this month, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the administration was “concerned about the dangers of installing networks with equipment that can be manipulated, disrupted, or even controlled by the People’s Republic of China, which as we know, of course, has no regard for human rights or privacy.”
5G was also high on the agenda of a multilateral meeting held on Friday between leaders of the US, Japan, India and Australia – an alliance known as the Quad.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday said that restrictions on Huawei suppliers show once again that the US is “an unreliable country with zero credibility” adding that Washington “must immediately stop oppressing Chinese firms & treat them in a fair, just & non-discriminatory manner.”
Earlier this month, a US official said that the Biden administration is expected to put together a task force to deal with major cyber intrusions that Microsoft said this week were linked to China as relations between the two — Washington and Beijing — continue to spiral downwards.
CNN, citing the US official, reported that there are an estimated 30,000 affected customers in the US and 250,000 globally, though those numbers are expected to increase. However, the White House declined to comment on the number of victims affected.
In February, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) warned that the efforts made by the Chinese Communist Party to obtain US health data, particularly DNA, through hacking had stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to The Hill, the agency noted that these efforts had increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Chinese biotech group BGI offering Covid-19 testing kits to the majority of countries and establishing 18 testing labs over the past six months alone, allegedly as part of an effort to obtain health data.
The NCSC wrote that US health data was an attractive target for the Chinese government due to the diversity of the population and because of the nation’s comparably lax safeguards for personal data.
Under the Trump administration, ties between the two countries had deteriorated over issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China’s military aggression in various parts of the world.