Senate Votes To Tighten Restrictions on Huawei, ZTE

( Last week, the Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation to prevent Chinese tech companies from receiving new equipment licenses from US regulators.

The Secure Equipment Act, co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, targets Chinese companies, like Huawei and ZTE, which have been deemed national security threats.

A companion measure, sponsored by Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), already passed in the House by a vote of 420 to 4. With the Senate’s unanimous vote, it will now land on President Biden’s desk for his signature.

The Secure Equipment Act would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reviewing or issuing new licenses to any company on the FCC’s “Covered Equipment or Services List.”

Last year, the FCC asserted that Huawei and ZTE jeopardized US national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting US communications networks. Then in March of this year, the FCC expanded the list to also include Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co, and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

In June the FCC voted unanimously to advance a plan to ban approvals for equipment in US telecommunications networks from those companies even as lawmakers were simultaneously pursuing this legislation to mandate it.

The FCC’s June decision drew sharp criticism from Beijing who accused the US of abusing national security and state power to suppress Chinese telecommunications companies. Huawei also criticized the move, calling it “misguided and unnecessarily punitive.”

Huawei, which has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Communist Chinese Government, has thus far offered no comment after Thursday’s Senate vote.

Last Tuesday the FCC voted to ban China’s largest telecom company from operating in the US citing “significant national security concerns.”

In Tuesday’s vote, the FCC ended China Telecom (Americas) Corporation’s ability to provide domestic interstate and international telecommunications services within the United States. In a press release announcing the move, the FCC said China Telecom was “subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government.”