The Department of Defense has blocked the sale on military bases of phones and other devices made by Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE, said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who praised the move.
Rubio said the action was to protect national security against the threat posed by Chinese telecommunications companies.
We cannot allow the Chinese government and Communist Party to infiltrate the sensitive data of our government and people," said Rubio. "While today’s [May 2] announcement is a significant step toward safeguarding military personnel from this threat, we must go further and pass my bill to prohibit the U.S. government from purchasing or leasing devices from these foreign entities.”
Last month, Commerce Department officials said ZTE had violated the terms of its settlement agreement with the U.S. over illegally shipping telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea and, as a penalty, would be blocked from exporting its telecom equipment.
ZTE has countered that the Commerce move is unfair and and stands to “severely impact” the company’s survival. It has threatened legal action is necessary.
“Huawei’s products are sold in 170 countries worldwide and meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country we operate globally including the U.S.," that company said in a statement. "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. Huawei is an employee-owned company and will continue to develop its global business through a significant commitment to innovation and R&D as well as to delivering technology that helps our customers succeed.”
FCC chair Ajit Pai has also proposed to ban the use of money from the FCC's Universal Service Fund for equipment or services from "companies that pose a national security threat to United States communications networks or the communications supply chain."
The proposal in part stemmed from a Dec. 20 letter from Congress expressing concerns about Huawei and ZTE, plus a follow-up intelligence briefing, both of which were described as impetuses to the effort to monitor the supply chain, senior FCC officials speaking on background said.