A Republican congressman introduced a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit the United States from sharing intelligence with countries that allow Huawei to operate their 5G networks.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement: “Our allies must choose: Adopt Huawei and lose access to U.S. intelligence, or remain our trusted partner.” Banks called Huawei a “Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party to spy on and infiltrate other nations.”
“If China doesn’t respect the human rights of [its] own people, why would we think that they would respect the human rights or the privacy of Americans or any European country that would choose to operate using technologies from companies like Huawei or ZTE?” Banks told The Epoch Times in March 2019.
The proposed bill on Huawei comes ahead of a decision expected later this month by the United Kingdom about how to deploy Huawei equipment in its future 5G networks.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who serves as chair of the House Republican Conference and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is supporting the legislation.
In a statement largely directed at the UK, Cheney noted that Huawei’s efforts to “infiltrate 5G are nefarious at their core,” and that allowing the telecommunications company to operate the UK’s networks “would pose a national security threat that could not be mitigated or contained.”
“Such a decision would necessarily have negative consequences for the U.S./U.K. relationship in many areas, including trade and intelligence cooperation,” she added. “I hope that the U.K. unites with the U.S. and other allies against the threat from Huawei. However, the U.S. must always be prepared to protect its national security interests.”
Banks also expressed his hope that “the UK will choose to unite with the US and our allies against the threat of Huawei” in a Twitter post thanking the congresswoman for her support.
The bill is the companion version to legislation that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced earlier this month.
“The United States shouldn’t be sharing valuable intelligence information with countries that allow an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party to operate freely within their borders,” Cotton said at the time in a statement. “I urge our allies around the world to carefully consider the consequences of dealing with Huawei to their national interests.”
In May 2019, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and its affiliates to a list that bans the company from acquiring components and technology from U.S. firms without government approval. In June 2019, President Donald Trump said he would ease the ban and allow U.S. companies to sell certain non-sensitive products to Huawei.
U.S. officials and experts have previously sounded the alarm over Huawei, saying its products could be used by the Chinese regime for spying or to disrupt communication networks due to its close ties with the Chinese military. Critics have also raised the point that Chinese laws compel Chinese companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies when asked.
Huawei maintains that it has no ties with the Chinese regime. However, the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was an officer at China’s Ministry of Security, the country’s top espionage agency. Sun Yafang, who served as Huawei’s CEO from 1998 to 2018, also worked for the same agency.
A July 2019 study by Christopher Balding, an associate professor at Fulbright University Vietnam, analyzed the leaked CVs of thousands of Huawei employees and found that about 100 staff members had links to Chinese military or intelligence agencies.
The state-run publication Huazhong University of Science and Technology Press published a biography saying that the Chinese military was Huawei’s main customer during the 1990s.
The China Development Bank, a financial institution under the cabinet-like State Council, has “closely worked with Huawei since 1998 and signed a cooperation agreement with Huawei in 2009 to supply it with $30 billion in low-interest loans,” according to a 2009 report by state media Xinhua.
Eva Fu contributed to this report.