August 16, 2018
As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise.
The Verge reports that, “in the end, Congress decided on a measure that will essentially ban the U.S. government or anyone that wants to work with the U.S. government from using components from Huawei, ZTE, or a number of other Chinese communications companies.” The ban, which goes into effect over the next two years, “covers the use of Huawei and ZTE components or services that are ‘essential’ or ‘critical’ to the system they’re used in.”
Some Huawei and ZTE components are allowed if “they cannot be used to route or view data.” The bill just passed “also instructs several government agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, to prioritize funding to assist businesses that will have to change their technology as a result of the ban.”
Huawei’s response to the ban was to say that it was “ineffective, misguided, and unconstitutional” and failed to “identify real security risks or improve supply chain security,” while increasing costs for businesses and consumers.
Huawei and ZTE were deemed a national security threat as far back as 2012, in a House report, and U.S. security agency heads have also recommended not using their products. The bill just passed “doesn’t outright ban either company from U.S. infrastructure,” but companies that want to work for the government will likely avoid using Huawei and ZTE components.