Raimondo has won confirmation, but the fight to restrict export technology to China continues
Gina Raimondo made headlines earlier this year when she refused to commit to keeping Huawei on the entity list during her Senate confirmation hearing. After the White House failed — on two separate occasions — to clear up the confusion, I joined with 19 of my House colleagues to urge the Senate to pause then-Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo’s confirmation until Congress got a commitment from the Biden administration that Huawei would remain on the entity list. While we were able to convince one senator to place a hold, that hold was limited. And this week Gov. Raimondo became Secretary Raimondo — without making a clear commitment to keep Huawei on the entity list.
Huawei is not a normal telecommunications company, nor is it a private company. It is a telecommunications surveillance program for the Chinese Communist Party that is arm of the CCP military; is supporting the genocide in Xinjiang; and is under criminal charges in the United States for a litany of crimes, including conspiring to steal U.S. trade secrets and violating nuclear weapons sanctions. Its founder is a CCP member, and the company has a party committee embedded in its operations.
In other words, Huawei is the CCP in corporate form.
It’s hard for Americans to truly understand just how much control the CCP has over the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) economy and companies, like Huawei. In a system where the CCP leads everything, no entity — business, university, or citizen — can refuse its demands. Companies have no choice but to hand over sensitive information or technology to the CCP.
Now imagine such a company having its equipment installed in our 5G networks, gaining access to our personal and national security information.
That’s why in May 2019 the U.S. Department of Commerce placed Huawei on their entity list. This means Huawei is unable to buy or use U.S. technologies — like advanced semiconductor chips and manufacturing equipment — without approval from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). This helps our government keep U.S. technologies and know-how from supporting the CCP military and the CCP’s internment camps in Xinjiang. Without this entity listing, the U.S. government would be unable to stop this transfer of technology.
Keeping Huawei on the entity list has bipartisan, bicameral support. The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act included language that ensured Huawei would not be removed from the entity list until it no longer poses a national security threat. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has referred to Huawei as a “national security threat,” and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has said allowing Huawei to do business with the U.S. “is a major security risk for America.” Only months ago the Federal Communications Commission rejected Huawei’s request to reconsider the agency’s designation of the group as a national security threat. And with nearly three-quarters of Americans wanting Huawei equipment removed from the United States, it’s unclear why the Biden administration is will not commit to keep Huawei on the entity list.
The fight to counter the CCP’s genocide and their militarization extends well beyond Huawei. It also includes companies like SMIC, another company with deep ties to the CCP military, and Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), a company that is collecting the health data of Americans. But Huawei, SMIC, and BGI do serve as a threshold question for how the Biden administration will approach export control policy. Export controls are one of our most effective tools to keep advanced U.S. technology out of surveillance systems that imprison people based on race and religion and out of the missile systems aimed at our allies and homeland. Unrestricted technology trade cannot continue when a generational adversary like the CCP is actively threatening our country, allies, and values.
The confirmation of Secretary Raimondo does not end this conversation. President Biden will soon nominate someone to lead BIS at the Commerce Department. They will have one of the most consequential jobs in our government, overseeing export control policy. This person must have strong national security credentials and deep understanding of the CCP to halt short-sighted and dangerous trade in dual-use technology. Although the United States is in a position of technological strength, we risk losing that position for the next generation of Americans if we inadvertently support the build-up an autocratic regime.
Rep. McCaul represents Texas’ 10th District and is the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the China Task Force.