Huawei and ZTE faced further scrutiny in the US after a new bill proposed the government should be prohibited from using equipment made by the Chinese companies or their affiliates amid security concerns.
The bill, introduced by Texas congressman Mike Conaway, proposed that government agencies should be banned from purchasing or leasing telecoms equipment and services from both companies, or any subsidiaries or affiliates, “to protect America from Chinese spyware”. The US government has long-held reservations about the security risks posed by Huawei and ZTE, which have in particular hindered the former from establishing a firm foothold in the market.
In a statement, Conaway claimed: “Chinese commercial technology is a vehicle for the Chinese government to spy on United States federal agencies, posing a severe national security threat”.
“Allowing Huawei, ZTE and other related entities access to US government would be inviting Chinese surveillance into all aspects of our lives,” he said.
Conaway added while the threat from China had receded in recent years, it was now “reemerging as the Chinese government is reattempting to embed themselves into US technology”.
“This is extremely dangerous because the Chinese government is trying to compromise the integrity of US businesses and spy on our closely held national security interests,” he said.
News of the proposed bill comes just a week after a mooted partnership between Huawei and AT&T collapsed at the final hurdle. The Chinese equipment vendor, which made strides in recent years across Asia and Europe, was expected to partner the operator over sales of its Mate 10 Pro smartphone in the US, but the deal reportedly fell through because of security concerns from US government officials.
ZTE is also no stranger to controversy in the US after being hit with a $1.2 billion fine in the country in 2017 for breaching Iranian trade sanctions.
Conaway added his proposed legislation falls in line with President Donald Trump’s policy of putting American national security interests first.