AT&T and other US companies were urged to cut all commercial links with Huawei and operator China Mobile, as the government takes a tougher line on Chinese technology players seeking a foothold in the country.

Speaking to Reuters, two congressional aides revealed US lawmakers warned operator AT&T to cut its ties with Chinese equipment vendor Huawei, as well oppose any plans by operator China Mobile to enter the US market.

Huawei’s position in the US has been in spotlight once again after AT&T last week scrapped a mooted smartphone partnership following opposition from the government. AT&T had been expected to team with Huawei to offer its Mate 10 Pro device, a deal which would have given the Chinese company a major leg-up in its attempts to establish a firm foothold in the US.

China Mobile, meanwhile, sought a licence in the US in 2011, but the application is still pending before US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Government officials reportedly want to reject the move.

End 5G collaboration
US government officials, under the Donald Trump administration, are stepping up regulation against Chinese technology companies operating in the US, amid national security concerns and allegations of spying.

Indeed, Washington has long-held reservations about Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE operating in the US. Both companies were investigated in 2012 on spying allegations, while ZTE was fined around $1 billion in 2017 for breaching US trade sanctions with Iran.

Reuters reported some US senators and members of the House of Representatives also want AT&T, the second largest US operator, to end a collaboration with Huawei covering 5G development, a technology the operator plans to launch for mobile customers at the end of this year.

In terms of existing commercial ties, AT&T supplies Huawei handsets through its subsidiary Cricket Wireless. The operator is also a supplier of Huawei handsets in Mexico, so it is unclear whether a request to cut all commercial ties with the Chinese company would also extend to other markets.

US lawmakers have also extended the warning to other US companies, added the Reuters’ sources, stating those with links to Huawei or China Mobile could be hampered from doing business with the US government.

As part of growing anti-Chinese sentiment, Texas congressman Michael Conaway introduced a bill this week proposing a ban on the US government from using services or equipment from Huawei or ZTE.