Graham warns of 5G security threat from China

Graham warns of 5G security threat from China
© Greg Nash

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Cruz to oppose Trump appeals court pick Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday pressed the Trump administration to work with Congress on combatting security threats from 5G wireless technology, including stopping business with countries using Chinese technologies.

“You’ve got hardening our critical infrastructure here at home that is mostly private sector based,” Graham said, during a hearing of his committee on 5G national security threats. “Now we’ve got a developing technology called 5G that if China dominates this market, we may not be able to do normal business or function normally, and we are sitting around looking at each other.”

Graham added “we’ve got a bunch of bills being introduced, but it’s going to take administrative leadership, it’s going to take the Trump administration working with Congress, to deal with both problems.”

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Graham promised to “restart the conversation” around securing critical technology against threats from countries such as China, and vowed to offer foreign allies “a better alternative than what China has on the table” in regards to 5G, including options other than doing business with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.

Following the hearing, Graham discussed the idea of not doing business with foreign governments that utilize Chinese technology in order to lower national security threats.

“It seems to me the policy of the United States is that the criteria we are asking foreign government to meet can never be met with the current China,” Graham told reporters. “Until China stops being a Communist dictatorship, we are not going to support working with a country that uses their technology.”

Huawei, which is under scrutiny over its ties to the Chinese government, is trying to ease concerns. Reuters reported Tuesday that Huawei Chairman Lang Hua pledged at a London conference that the company will sign “no-spy agreements” with foreign governments.

“We are willing to sign no-spy agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves to making our equipment meet the no-spy, no-backdoors standard,” Hua said according to Reuters.

The British government has been debating allowing Huawei to provide 5G mobile technology to the country, with reports emerging last month that the government had decided to allow the company to provide “non-core” 5G technology to British companies.   

Back on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions This week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings GOP senators object to White House delaying home-state projects for border wall MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Hill that she would support further hearings on the topic of 5G threats from China, but that she did not think “we are near legislation” on combating those threats yet.

Multiple Senate Republicans, however, are moving ahead with their own bills aimed at combatting 5G and supply chain threats from China.

Among these was the China Technology Transfer Control Act, introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyState probes of Google, Facebook to test century-old antitrust laws Cruz to oppose Trump appeals court pick Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would “formally admonish China” for the theft of intellectual property from the U.S., and place all “core technologies” from China’s Made in China 2025 strategy on the Department of Commerce’s export control list.

The Made in China 2025 strategy is a state-led effort to make China dominant in international technology manufacturing.

“It’s time to acknowledge that China acts more like an adversary than a friend,” Hawley said in a statement. “For too long, China has exploited American innovation to undermine our values and threaten our security. This legislation is an important step toward keeping American technology out of the hands of the Chinese government and its military.”

Another bill around 5G and supply chain threats introduced Tuesday was the Supply Chain Act, sponsored by Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe evolution of Taylor Swift's political activism Kellyanne Conway responds to Taylor Swift criticism by invoking pop star's lyrics Is there internet life after thirty? MORE (R-Tenn.) and John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure Cruz: Texas will be 'hotly contested' in 2020 MORE (R-Texas). This legislation would require “long-term scenario and strategic planning” between the government and private sector to assess the risk vulnerability of the nation’s information and communications technology marketplace, and to develop strategies to mitigate these risks.

“It is important that as we talk about this issue, we talk about having a national strategy, not government control of a 5G network,” Blackburn said about 5G threats during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The topic of the need to secure 5G networks against foreign threats appeared to be a bipartisan topic on the committee on Tuesday, with support for action from most committee members.

“If our allies decide to trust Huawei, they are deciding to trust the Chinese government with their big data,” Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Trump endorses Sasse in 2020 race MORE (R-Neb.) said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said that there "seems to be pretty strong bipartisan alarm about the threat posed by Huawei, which is really the threat posed by China, and what still mystifies me is why our partners and allies around the world seem less alarmed than we are. We have been figuratively pounding the table here.”

“It’s not about overseeing Huawei, it’s about overseeing China,” Graham said. “I haven’t seen bipartisanship like this in a long time.”