Bipartisan pressure to keep Chinese telecom firm Huawei out of the global development of 5G networks intensified Monday after House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms Lawmakers push back at Trump’s Pentagon funding grab for wall Malaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations MORE (D-Calif.) joined the Trump administration in warning that the company poses a threat to the U.S. and its allies.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Pelosi told allies in stark terms not to use Huawei technology to roll out 5G networks, saying it would mean “selling the privacy of your people down the river.”
“It’s a People’s Liberation Army initiative using reversed engineering from Western technology,” Pelosi said. “So of course it’s going to be cheaper to put on the market. And if it’s cheaper, then they get the market share and then they [China] bring in their autocracy of lack of privacy.”
Pelosi’s comments marked the escalating pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to stop the spread of Huawei technology. The company has been a major concern on both Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration over a 2017 Chinese intelligence law that requires Chinese companies to assist in state intelligence work.
In the U.S., the administration has stepped up its efforts to rein in the company. Last week, the Department of Justice announced new indictments against Huawei, charging the company with using deception to steal trade secrets and of conspiracy to commit racketeering. The charges detailed how the company allegedly rewarded employees for stealing confidential business information from other groups and lied to the FBI and House committees about its efforts.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also targeted Huawei, voting unanimously in November to classify the company as a national security threat and to ban American telecom groups from using FCC funds to buy Huawei equipment.
But those efforts to crack down on Huawei have run into headwinds in Europe. The United Kingdom’s National Security Council in January decided to allow the use of Huawei 5G equipment in “peripheral” networks, rejecting the Trump administration’s calls to outright ban the company.
A senior administration official at the White House told The Hill at the time that the administration was “disappointed” by the U.K.’s decision, but on Capitol Hill the decision sparked anger, with lawmakers arguing the move could endanger intelligence sharing between Britain and the U.S.
A group of Republicans led by Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars Hillicon Valley: Tech confronts impact of coronavirus | House GOP offers resolution to condemn UK over Huawei | YouTube lays out plans to tackle 2020 misinformation GOP lawmakers introduce resolution denouncing UK’s Huawei decision MORE (Texas), the top GOP lawmaker on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a House resolution denouncing the British government’s decision and urging the U.K. to reconsider.
“Huawei equipment is absolute poison — providing them access to any aspect of a 5G network compromises the integrity of the entire system and will result in network data being sent back to Communist Party leaders in Beijing,” the Republicans, including Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyHouse passes bipartisan bill to create women’s history museum Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia House rejects GOP resolution condemning Pelosi for ripping up Trump’s speech MORE (Wyo.), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoUS lawmakers push WHO to recognize Taiwan as independent state as coronavirus outbreak continues Hillicon Valley: Tech confronts impact of coronavirus | House GOP offers resolution to condemn UK over Huawei | YouTube lays out plans to tackle 2020 misinformation GOP lawmakers introduce resolution denouncing UK’s Huawei decision MORE (Fla.), Michael Turner (Ohio) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherHillicon Valley: Tech confronts impact of coronavirus | House GOP offers resolution to condemn UK over Huawei | YouTube lays out plans to tackle 2020 misinformation GOP lawmakers introduce resolution denouncing UK’s Huawei decision House Republicans introduce resolution condemning UK’s decision to allow Huawei in 5G networks MORE (Wis.), said in a joint statement.
Though Democrats have long expressed concerns about the company, Pelosi’s forceful comments put the party’s leaders squarely on the same side as Republicans, raising pressure on other countries that are also weighing decisions on how to handle Huawei.
Encouraging allied countries to ditch Huawei equipment has proved challenging because many rural telecom companies are dependent on its technology and there is no alternative American company for 5G equipment.
The two main alternate producers of 5G equipment are Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson.
Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump says he has ‘total confidence’ in Barr In defense of William Barr Trump suggests he may sue over Mueller investigation MORE earlier this month called on the U.S. and its allies to throw their support behind those companies to undercut Huawei’s dominance.
“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power,” Barr said during the Justice Department’s China Initiative Conference. “We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach.”
Huawei has fought back strongly against the allegations, including announcing in December that it was suing the FCC. The company also dismissed the new Justice Department charges in a statement Friday as “political persecution, plain and simple.”
“Attacking Huawei will not help the US stay ahead of the competition. Repeating a lie will not make it true,” Huawei said in the statement. “We believe that the court will make a fair ruling based on facts and evidence.”
Huawei had also pushed back against a clause in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that banned federal agencies from buying certain equipment from Huawei and Chinese group ZTE. A federal judge ruled against Huawei in their case challenging this law on Tuesday, with the judge ruling that Congress acted within its power in including the language on Huawei in the law.
But the efforts against Huawei have also been undercut at times by President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE, who has sent conflicting messages. Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. is “open for business” with foreign companies.
“National security is important, I have been very tough toward Huawei, but that doesn’t mean we have to be tough on everybody that does something. We want to be able to sell all of this incredible technology, we are No. 1 in the world, we want to be able to sell to other countries,” Trump said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Trump’s Commerce Department has also repeatedly delayed adding Huawei to a list that would effectively blacklist it and ban U.S. companies from doing business with it.
Lawmakers, though, have sought to take the lead, introducing a flurry of bills to take on Huawei and reduce American dependence on its technology.
The House passed legislation last month that would ban the federal government from buying equipment from groups deemed national security threats, such as Huawei, and would create a $1 billion program to help rural networks rip out Huawei equipment and replace it with more “secure” products.
A bipartisan Senate bill introduced last month, meanwhile, would create a $750 million research and development fund for American research in 5G technologies.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony US prosecutors bring new charges against China’s Huawei Graham vows to approach Hunter Biden probe with caution: ‘I’m not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele’ MORE (R-N.C.) said in introducing the Senate bill that the decisions on Huawei would have lasting repercussions. He said letting the company work in 5G networks could prove “disastrous.”
“When it comes to 5G technology, the decisions we make today will be felt for decades to come,” Burr said.