Republican senators want to bar US government from using ZTE, Huawei devices
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to prevent the U.S. government from using products from certain Chinese telecommunications firms.
The impetus for Cotton and Rubio’s legislation is concern over the Chinese government using hypothetical backdoors in ZTE and Huawei phones to spy on U.S. government officials.
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Cotton said in a statement. “There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us.”
Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) also have legislation in the House calling for similar measures against Chinese tech.
“We don’t want undisclosed backdoors into our systems,” Conaway told The Hill last month.
“The relationship those companies have with different Chinese intelligence agencies themselves and their government — it’s opaque. We don’t know what is or isn’t there.”
The proposed legislation comes amid a growing push from the U.S. government to cut ties with Chinese telecommunications firms.
Last month, lawmakers reportedly pushed AT&T to nix a plan to offer Huawei devices to customers.
The White House has also blocked multiple attempts by U.S. firms to acquire Chinese telecommunications companies due to national security concerns.