A bipartisan effort to restrict Chinese telecommunications company Huawei’s access to banks in the United States has been introduced in the Senate.
Huawei is the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and is regarded as a threat to national security because of its ties to the Chinese Communist Party
Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rick Scott of Florida in sponsoring the Neutralizing Emerging Threats from Wireless OEMs Receiving direction from Kleptocracies and Surveillance states Act or the NET-WORKS Act.
“We’ve made great strides in recent years at home and abroad in combatting Huawei’s malign attempts to dominate 5G and steal Americans’ data,” said Cotton on Dec. 13. “Huawei is an arm of Chinese intelligence. We cannot allow Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Americans’ personal data and our country’s most sensitive defense systems.”
“Foreign companies that spy on the U.S. and violate our laws should face severe consequences,” added Van Hollen.”Huawei is a repeat offender. This bipartisan bill will bolster our national defenses by further sanctioning Huawei and other similar bad actors seeking to undermine our security.”
Under the NET-WORKS Act, Huawei would be added to a list of foreign entities accused of espionage that American companies are prohibited from working with by the Treasury Department. Blocking the Huawei’s access to American banks would prevent the company from being involved in the nation’s financial system, reports The Week.
The American intelligence community has scrutinized Huawei’s actions for years.
Two Chinese spies were indicted in late October for attempting to bribe a US law enforcement official with $61,000 worth of bitcoin in order to obstruct an American investigation into Huawei. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the cases, filed in New York and New Jersey, showed the Chinese government “sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms in the United States and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights.”
“The justice department will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is based,” Garland said, per The Guardian. “This was an egregious attempt by [People’s Republic of China’s] intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our judicial system.”
Chinese officials have denounced the bipartisan bill.
“The U.S. is ruining international rules,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, per Bloomberg. “China will take measures to uphold the legitimate and legal rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
The federal effort to prohibit Huawei’s access to American financial institutions coincides with efforts to limit Chinese-tied TikTok’s access to citizens’ private data and to restrict Chinese ownership of agricultural land.