Pentagon orders military stores to stop selling Chinese phones
The Defense Department is ordering retail stores on military bases to stop selling products made by Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE, citing security concerns.
“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to Department’s personnel, information and mission,” Major Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “In light of this information, it was not prudent for the Department’s exchanges to continue selling them to [Defense Department] personnel.”
Eastburn would not go into details about the nature of the security concerns, but cited public testimony from intelligence officials warning that the firms may be compromised by the Chinese government.
The order was given to military bases around the world on April 25, the spokesman said.
In February, intelligence leaders told Congress that they would advise against Americans purchasing products from the two firms, warning that their devices could be used to conduct espionage on behalf of Beijing.
The officials were echoing a 2012 congressional report that effectively shut Huawei and ZTE out of the U.S. market.
The government is increasingly going after Chinese tech firms hoping to gain a foothold in the U.S. Last month, the FCC voted to move forward with a proposal to ban such companies from subsidy programs for broadband and phone access.
“These devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel and mission,” Eastburn said, adding that the Pentagon is considering whether to issue an advisory to military personnel urging them not to use Huawei or ZTE devices.
In an emailed statement to The Hill late Wednesday, a senior spokesman for Huawei said the company’s products “meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering.”
“We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us to compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices,” Charles Zinkowski said.