US FCC issues final orders declaring Huawei, ZTE national security threats

By formally designating Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as threats to United States national security the Federal Communications Commission has barred US firms from tapping an $8.3bn government fund to purchase equipment from the companies [File Hannibal H

By formally designating Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as threats to United States national security the Federal Communications Commission has barred US firms from tapping an $8.3bn government fund to purchase equipment from the companies [File Hannibal H

The Federal Communication Commission has declared Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE "national security threats", a move that will formally ban USA telecom companies from using federal funds to buy and install Huawei and ZTE equipment.

The orders designating the two companies as national security threats are available in-full for both Huawei and ZTE.

The order, published by the FCC on Tuesday, said the designation takes immediate effect, but it's not immediately clear how the designation changes the status quo. In a news release explaining the decision, the FCC said that this is a step to protect U.S. networks fro security risks.

The U.S. contends that Huawei's equipment could be used by China for spying.

While Pai cited "the overwhelming weight of evidence" to support the FCC's move, U.S. intelligence agencies' claims that Chinese telecom equipment is riddled with backdoors funneling sensitive data back to Beijing have yet to be supported with evidence.

"Both Huawei and ZTE have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China's military apparatus", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Twitter. Federal agencies and lawmakers have long claimed that because the tech giants are subject to Chinese law, they could be obligated to "cooperate with the country's intelligence services", Pai said.

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According to today's FCC's presser, the designations of ZTE and Huawei as national security threats are effective immediately.

In May 2019, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk.

Huawei has been repeatedly banned and blacklisted by the USA government, which has also pressured allies including the United Kingdom and Germany to bar the market-dominating Chinese firm from their nascent 5G infrastructure.

In May 2019, the FCC voted to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide U.S. services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the company to conduct espionage against the USA government.

The FCC granted its approvals to the firms more than a decade ago.

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