US Attorney General Says Huawei and ZTE Pose a Threat and "Cannot Be Trusted"

Giulio Saggin
Giulio Saggin
Tuesday 28 November 2023

US Attorney General William Barr has said Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE "cannot be trusted".

The comment was made to Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in a letter written by Barr in which he voiced his support of the FCC's draft Report and Order highlighting national security threats to the communications supply chain.

"Protecting our networks (rural and urban alike) from equipment or services offered by companies posing a threat to the integrity of those networks is a vital national security goal," wrote Barr.

National security was mentioned numerous times throughout the letter and Huawei and ZTE were singled out as "posing a threat". Huawei is being pursued in more than one US jurisdiction for, among other things, alleged violations of the US embargo on Iran, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, trade secret theft, and fraud, while ZTE pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating the US embargo on Iran, after it sent over $30 million dollars' worth of US goods to Iran and then made false statements and obstructed justice when its conduct was exposed.

Barr doesn't hold back when it comes to the Chinese government, noting that Huawei and ZTE’s competitors are struggling "in a market wildly distorted by Chinese state-funding" and "The Chinese have subsidized their firms to lock up as much of the market as possible. This threatens to thwart the emergence of fair competition and lead to irreversible market dominance that will force all of us onto Chinese systems, causing unmitigable harm to our national security."

Barr applauded the FCC's efforts to ensure that the Universal Service Fund (USF) wasn't used to undermine national security (The USF handles telecommunications subsidies and fees across the USA in areas such as low-income support, schools and libraries and rural health care).

"Prohibiting USF recipients from using those funds to purchase equipment and services from companies like Huawei and ZTE helps secure our networks and protect our national security by encouraging those recipients to choose trusted, reliable providers," said Barr, adding that, "while the world decides where to place its trust, we should not signal that Huawei and ZTE are anything other than a threat to our collective security, for that is exactly what they, through their actions, have shown themselves to be."

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