WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is set to ban approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE in the United States on national security grounds, according to a document posted by the agency.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last week circulated the proposed ban to the other three commissioners for final approval. The companies would not be able to sell new equipment in the United States without equipment authorizations.
In June 2021, the FCC voted to advance the plan to ban approvals for equipment in U.S. telecommunications networks from Chinese companies deemed national security threats, including Huawei and ZTE.
That came after a March 2021 designation of five Chinese companies on the so-called “covered list” as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks: Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology.
The FCC said in June 2021 it was considering banning all equipment authorizations for all companies on the covered list.
This year, the FCC added Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas), China Mobile International U.S.A., Pacific Networks Corp and China Unicom (Americas) to the covered list.
Rosenworcel said last year the new measures would “exclude untrustworthy equipment from our communications networks. … We have left open opportunities for [Huawei and other Chinese equipment] use in the United States through our equipment authorization process. So here we propose to close that door.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in 2021 the FCC had approved more than 3,000 applications from Huawei since 2018.
The FCC action would prohibit all future authorizations for communications equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security.
In 2019, the United States placed Huawei, Hikvision and other firms on its economic blacklist.
Also in 2020, the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats to communications networks – a declaration that barred U.S. companies from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.
Earlier this year, the Chinese embassy in Washington said the FCC “abused state power and maliciously attacked Chinese telecom operators again without factual basis.”