Funding the removal of Huawei in our networks is smart investment
The United Kingdom announced the ban last month on the purchase of Huawei equipment starting at the end of the year. But more so than that, all Huawei equipment installed in the United Kingdom must be removed by 2027. This development is big news in the battle against the efforts of China to dominate the future of 5G. The removal of Huawei equipment in the United States is something our leaders must also undertake.
The behavior of Beijing in Hong Kong, the tactics in the South China Sea, the treatment of the Uyghur population, and the business practices used by Huawei and other firms highlight the challenges that our country faces. While we have broad domestic issues to handle, we must not take our eye off the ball in 5G. To succeed here and cement our economy and national security will take a significant bipartisan and innovative offense.
The White House and the Federal Communications Commission are taking action to limit the use of Huawei in our networks and opening spectrum to allow for further growth. By designating Huawei a national security threat, Washington signals that doing business with it is like doing business with the Communist Party. The State Department is working to inform several other countries of the risks posed from Huawei and other firms.
The siren call of cheaper prices often overwhelms considerations with the real costs of ceding sovereignty to China. The United States must, like the United Kingdom, work to remove any Huawei equipment already installed in our communications networks. This marks the “rip and replace” aspect with digital protection. Huawei is a national security threat. Its equipment and services have no place inside our communications networks.
Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate earlier this month would do that with the Ensuring Network Security Act. A companion bill of the same name was introduced in the House. This legislation, which builds off of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act approved by Congress earlier this year, would provide increased access to key federal funding for our communications providers and educational institutions to remove and replace equipment ordered from dangerous sources like Huawei.
Much of this equipment found its way into our networks before the extent of the national security threat that Huawei posed was fully appreciated. In 2012, I and my colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee first rang the alarm over Huawei. It has been a long road to get the country and our companies to recognize how dangerous this equipment and the services are. The world has seen what Communist Party dominance looks like and understands what Chinese control of our networks would mean.
Funding the removal of Huawei equipment, as the new legislation would, is a smart investment and one that should be made now. Companies will not be able to bear the entire burden of the removal and replacement of these assets. Beyond the immediate replacement of this risky equipment, helping companies purchase alternative equipment fuels the market. The importance of this cannot be overstated. We are in this situation because there were not enough capable and competitive vendors for 5G.
This is because China aggressively subsidizes domestic companies, and it continues to do so, giving those firms a significant and unfair competitive advantage over their Western counterparts. With the government backing and great financial support, such firms can undercut the prices of foreign companies, offer countries loans without interest to buy their equipment, and afford to behave in a way that no traditional business could.
The United States is taking the critical measures to prevent Huawei from building out the future of 5G, as our leaders are working to get our allies to do the same. Funding the removal of equipment is a smart investment in the protection of our data and marks a foundation of our economy and national security. It forces us to think creatively and push back against all the attempts of China to corner the market and dominate 5G. The recent legislation is the sort of bipartisan and innovative ideas we need.
Mike Rogers is a former member of Congress who served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He is now the David Abshire Chair at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and is a senior fellow with the Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Follow him @RepMikeRogers.
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