FCC designates Huawei, ZTE as national security threats

Move bars US telecoms from using government subsidy money to buy equipment from Chinese firms for their networks

The Huawei logo on a shop in Beijing 

The Huawei logo on a shop in Beijing  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally designated Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security on Tuesday (June 30).

“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 a press statement. “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.”

By listing Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, the FCC prohibits U.S. telecommunications providers from using government subsidy money through the $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund to buy equipment from the Chinese firms for their networks, according to The Verge. The FCC voted unanimously last November to block telecoms from using federal money to purchase from suppliers deemed a threat to national security; it was then recommended that the designation be applied to Huawei and ZTE, according to the press release.

The FCC also took into account recent moves by Congress, the White House, the intelligence community, U.S. allies, and communications service providers in other countries. “We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure,” Pai added.

According to The Verge, Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Both companies have repeatedly denied that they are threats to U.S. national security.

Other countries, including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have also effectively banned Huawei, according to ZDNet.