Joe Biden

Biden signs legislation to tighten US restrictions on Huawei, ZTE

The signing comes days before Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual summit.

Last updated:

US President Joe Biden has signed legislation to prevent companies like Huawei or ZTE, deemed security threats, from receiving new equipment licences from US regulators.

The Secure Equipment Act, the latest effort by the US government to crack down on Chinese telecom and tech companies, was approved unanimously by the US Senate on October 28 and earlier in the month by the US House on a 420-4 vote.

The signing comes days before Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual summit.

The new law requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to no longer review or approve any authorisation application for equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the commission has approved more than 3 000 applications from Huawei since 2018.

The law “will help to ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei and ZTE can no longer be inserted into America’s communications networks,” Carr said.

In March, the FCC designated five Chinese companies as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks.

The named companies included previously designated Huawei and ZTE, as well as Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

The FCC in June voted unanimously to advance a plan to ban approvals for equipment in US telecommunications networks from those Chinese companies even as lawmakers pursued legislation to mandate it.

The FCC vote in June drew opposition from Beijing.

“The US, without any evidence, still abuses national security and state power to suppress Chinese companies,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson at China’s foreign ministry, said in June.

Under proposed rules that won initial approval in June, the FCC could also revoke prior equipment authorisations issued to Chinese companies.

Huawei in June called the proposed FCC revision “misguided and unnecessarily punitive”.

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