Biden signs legislation to tighten U.S. restrictions on Huawei, ZTE

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WASHINGTON, Nov 11 (Businesshala) – US President Joe Biden on Thursday signed legislation to prevent companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. (HWT.UL) or ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) from obtaining new equipment licenses from US regulators. Doing so is considered a security hazard.

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

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The signing comes days before Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a virtual summit. Businesshala reported that the meeting is expected on Monday amid tensions over trade, human rights and military activities.

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

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FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the commission has approved more than 3,000 applications from Huawei since 2018. The law “will help ensure that unsecured 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 a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting US communications networks.

Named companies include the previously named Huawei and ZTE, as well as Hytera Communications Corp (002583.SZ), Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company (002415.SZ) and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Company (002236.SZ).

In June the FCC voted unanimously to pursue a plan to ban approval from those Chinese companies for equipment in US telecommunications networks, even though lawmakers followed legislation to mandate it.

An FCC vote in June drew opposition from Beijing.

“The United States, without any evidence, still abuses national security and state power to suppress Chinese companies,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in June.

Under the proposed rules, which received initial approval in June, the FCC could also revoke prior equipment authorizations issued to Chinese companies.

In June Huawei called the proposed FCC amendment “misguided and unnecessarily punitive.”

Last month, the FCC voted to revoke authorization for China Telecom’s US subsidiary to operate in the United States, citing national security concerns.

Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Alistair Bell

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