The U.S. has banned electronics from Huawei and several other Chinese companies from being sold or imported, a decisive step to contain the influence of companies already deemed national security threats that may be spying for China.
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday closed a “loophole” that allowed U.S. companies to purchase electronic equipment from companies, including Huawei, that the U.S. government has deemed too risky to buy from itself, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr announced.
The FCC voted unanimously to no longer authorize U.S. companies to buy certain equipment from entities on its Covered List, which currently includes nine Chinese companies and one Russian company.
It marks the “first time in the FCC’s history” that it banned communications and electronic equipment for national security concerns, Carr said. He added the action was taken “with the broad, bipartisan backing of congressional leadership.”
It’s the government’s strongest move yet against Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant whose equipment has spread around the globe in the race to provide 5G cellular service. U.S. officials have for years warned that Huawei’s equipment could effectively be a spying tool of the Chinese Communist Party.
Other Chinese companies on the Covered List include Huawei’s smaller rival ZTE, three video surveillance providers, and four telecom companies.
The U.S. drive against the proliferation of Huawei gear began around 2019, when then-U.S. Undersecretary of State Keith Krach worked to rally allied countries into a so-called “Clean Network,” Voice of America reported.
The FCC banned the U.S. government from purchasing Huawei and other companies’ equipment in 2019. Since then, the European Union has moved to restrict Chinese telecom equipment, and Huawei and ZTE have been banned in Australia and Canada. The U.K. has a deadline to remove all Huawei equipment by 2028, according to Reuters.
The FCC’s decision Friday to ban Covered List entities was required by the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, according to the FCC’s announcement.
“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.