The US Federal Communications Commission’s decision targets devices from Huawei, ZTE and other manufacturers.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced it is banning telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from prominent Chinese brands, including Huawei and ZTE, citing an “unacceptable risk to national security”.
The five-member FCC said Friday it had voted unanimously to pass new rules that will block imports or sales of the targeted products.
“Our unanimous decision marks the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of communications and electronic devices based on national security concerns,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement Friday.
He added that the move had “broad, bipartisan support” among US congressional leaders.
Security officials in the United States have warned that equipment from Chinese brands such as Huawei could be used to disrupt fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks and collect sensitive information.
The ban is the latest step in a years-long effort to “keep American networks safe” by identifying and banning devices deemed security threats, the FCC said.
Friday’s initiative also includes a ban on Hytera Communications, the Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company and the Dahua Technology Company.
Huawei declined to comment to Reuters news agency. ZTE, Dahua, Hikvision and Hytera did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But in 2019, then-US President Donald Trump signed into law the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which established criteria to identify communications services that Washington believed could pose a risk to national security.
The services classified as threats under that law then fell under the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden.
That act formed the basis for Friday’s announcement. It instructed the FCC to “adopt rules clarifying that it will no longer review or issue new equipment licenses” to those companies.
At the time, Florida Senator Marco Rubio applauded Biden’s decision.
“The Chinese Communist Party will do everything it can to exploit our laws and undermine our national security,” he said in a statement. “This legislation fixes a dangerous loophole in our law, curtailing their attempts to hack their way into our telecommunications networks.”
Huawei, one of the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturers in the world, has had a difficult relationship with the US and its allies, facing some of the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a single company in the US.
Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada for nearly three years following allegations from the US Justice Department that she had attempted to violate sanctions by attempting to do business with Iran.
She was charged with bank and wire transfer fraud and faced US extradition proceedings in Canadian court, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Canada, the US and China. Meng was released and returned to China in 2021.
Earlier this year, Canada joined the US Ban Huawei from 5G wireless networks.
Another FCC commissioner, Geoffrey Starks, described Friday’s ban as a preventative measure that would pay off in the future.
“By preventing equipment identified as a threat to the United States from entering our markets, we significantly reduce the risk that it could be used against us,” Starks said in a statement. “We also reduce the chance of having to scrap and replace that equipment in the future. Ultimately, if it can’t be authorized, it can’t be deployed.”