Thu, Feb 07, 2019 - Page 1 News List

US senators seek to reimpose sanctions on ZTE

ESPIONAGE?US officials are fanning out across Europe to warn allies about the security risks of allowing Huawei to help build their 5G networks, a US envoy said


People pass by a Huawei logo above the entrance of a Huawei Technologies Co store in Paris on Monday.

Photo: AFP

A bipartisan group of US senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would reimpose sanctions on ZTE Corp (中興通訊) if the Chinese telecommunications firm fails to live up to US laws and an agreement with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump angered many members of the US Congress, including some of his fellow Republicans, in July last year when he decided to lift a ban on US companies selling to ZTE, allowing the Chinese company to resume business.

ZTE broke a previous agreement and was caught illegally shipping US-origin goods to Iran and North Korea, US Department of Commerce officials said.

ZTE pleaded guilty last year over the sanctions breaches.

Republican senators Marco Rubio, Susan Collins and Jerry Moran sponsored the legislation along with Democratic senators Chris Van Hollen, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren and Doug Jones.

The bill came just days after top US officials met their Chinese counterparts in Washington to try to hammer out an agreement to end a trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

It also comes as the US tries to extradite a top executive at Huawei Technologies Co (華為) on charges she conspired to breach US sanctions on Iran.

Many congressional members view ZTE and Huawei as national security threats, worrying that the use of their technologies in the US could make it easier for China to steal secrets.

This was the second time US lawmakers have introduced a bill on ZTE and sanctions. The previous bill, introduced in September last year, expired as the previous Congressional session ended.

ZTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In related news, a US diplomat on Tuesday said that US officials are fanning out across Europe to warn about the security risks of allowing Huawei to help build 5G mobile networks.

Washington considers the matter urgent as EU nations prepare to roll out 5G networks that would bring near-instantaneous connectivity, vast data capacity and futuristic technologies.

“We are urging folks not to rush ahead and sign contracts with untrusted suppliers from countries like China,” a US Department of State official told reporters in Brussels.

The official said he was meeting EU officials, as well as those in Belgium, France and Germany, while colleagues would be traveling to Spain and elsewhere to underline US concerns.

“Going with an untrusted supplier like Huawei or ZTE will have all sorts of ramifications for your national security,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It could also undermine intellectual property protection, privacy and human rights, he added.

Washington’s priority was warning Europe where strong alliances make the “national security component even more compelling from the US point of view,” he said.

In December, European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip echoed US warnings about the threat posed by Huawei and ZTE, which — under a 2017 Chinese cybersecurity law — are required to cooperate with Beijing’s intelligence services.

Ansip on Tuesday said that the European Commission could play a limited coordinating role.

“National security is up to the member states,” the former Estonian prime minister told reporters. “If the member states ask to coordinate, to take the common approach, then historically the commission has always done so. We will do so if asked.”

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