National Security

Congress’ Spending Bill Leaves Out Banking Ban On Blacklisted Chinese Tech Giant

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Congress’ omnibus spending bill leaves out a plan to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from accessing U.S. banking systems despite bipartisan support for the measure.

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen introduced the legislation on Dec. 12 sanctioning Huawei and other 5G providers accused of committing economic espionage against the U.S. for the Chinese government. Although the U.S. government has designated Huawei and similar Chinese companies as national security threats and placed them under an import ban, lawmakers once again stopped short of fully listing the offending entities.

“We cannot allow Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Americans’ personal data and our country’s most sensitive defense systems. We must address the dire threat these Chinese companies pose to our national security,” Cotton said in a statement upon introducing the legislation. (RELATED: Senate Votes To Ban TikTok On Government Phones)

While the bill could have featured in the omnibus spending package for 2023 released Tuesday, along with a provision banning TikTok on government phones, it did not make it into the final text.

Huawei has been linked to Chinese state security services. The Federal Communications Commission banned U.S. sales and imports of equipment from companies including Huawei and ZTE in November, the first rule to be implemented on the grounds the companies pose an “unacceptable risk to national security.

The Neutralizing Emerging Threats from Wireless OEMs Receiving direction from Kleptocracies and Surveillance states, or NETWORKS Act, would add Huawei and other “untrustworthy” G5 producers to the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, according to a statement. The act would prevent any U.S. entities from conducting business with the blacklisted entities, blocking their access to the U.S. financial system.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida signed on as co-sponsors, and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher introduced companion legislation in the House, the statement said.

Huawei functions as an arm of Chinese intelligence, lawmakers claimed in the statement. While the U.S. has made significant progress in thwarting Beijing’s attempt to use major companies like Huawei as an instrument for spying on Americans, steal Americans’ data and dominate the market for 5G technology, “the fight is not finished,” Cotton said.

“Foreign companies that spy on the U.S. and violate our laws should face severe consequences. Huawei is a repeat offender,” said Van Hollen.

Cotton, Gallagher and other lawmakers first introduced the NETWORKS Act in 2020.

Congress banned the federal government from contracting with firms that use equipment from Huawei and five additional Chinese entities in 2020 following mounting concerns about the companies’ relationships with the Chinese Communist Party. Suspicion has mounted since.

The FBI launched an investigation into Huawei for potential surveillance capabilities at cell towers near U.S. military bases and nuclear missile silos in 2021. Then, in October 2022, the Department of Justice charged two Chinese intelligence operatives for attempting to interfere with the FBI’s prosecution against Huawei.

Cotton’s office declined to comment. Huawei and the offices of Van Hollen and Gallagher did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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