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14 Nov, 2019 22:47

Barr all things Chinese? AG calls Huawei & ZTE ‘threat to our collective security’

Barr all things Chinese? AG calls Huawei & ZTE ‘threat to our collective security’

Huawei and ZTE “cannot be trusted,” US Attorney General William Barr has warned the Federal Communications Commission, calling for a ban on rural telecoms using the products of companies he views as an existential threat.

The Chinese telecoms’ “track record, as well as the practices of the Chinese government, demonstrate that Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted,” Barr wrote to the FCC in a letter on Thursday. He urged the regulator to support a proposal to block rural carriers from dipping into an $8.5 billion federal fund to purchase services and equipment from the companies.

We should not signal that Huawei and ZTE are anything other than a threat to our collective security, for that is exactly what they, through their actions, have shown themselves to be.

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Barr, who declined to explain precisely which actions had shown the two companies to be the bogeyman the Trump administration has declared them, sent the letter in the hope of influencing a November 22 vote on the proposal. Another FCC proposal under consideration would force any carriers that had already purchased and implemented Huawei and ZTE equipment to remove and replace it at their own expense.

Washington has long accused Huawei and ZTE of spying for Beijing by marketing backdoored equipment to countries looking to build up their 5G infrastructure, despite an absence of proof. US government agencies and private corporations are banned from doing business with either company without a government waiver, a barrier that has taken a huge bite out of the American companies’ profits while leaving Huawei relatively healthy.

US diplomats have even threatened allies, including the UK and Germany, with being cut out of intelligence-sharing if they incorporate Huawei equipment into their burgeoning 5G networks - to no avail in most cases.

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