President Joe Biden on Thursday signed new legislation to prevent Huawei Technologies or ZTE Corp from receiving new equipment licenses from US regulators.

This is because the two firms are deemed threats to national security by the US, which the firms in question have always denied.

The new move by US officials comes after the Secure Equipment Act was approved unanimously by the US Senate on 28 October. It was then passed earlier this month by the US House on a 420-4 vote, Reuters reported.

US restrictions

The US and China have been engaged in a trade conflict since 2018, and the current Biden administration has vowed to maintain a tough line against China.

Last month, the FCC for example revoked the authorisation for China Telecom’s US subsidiary to operate in the United States.

The new Secure Equipment law however 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 was quoted as saying.

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

Two way street

The signing of this new law comes days before Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual summit, which should make the virtual discussions between the two sides even more awkward.

Reuters reported the meeting is expected on Monday.

It should be noted that the US actions are not a one way street.

Indeed, China has restricted Westerns firms for over a decade, but recently nearly all Western firms have retreated from the Chinese market (except Apple), citing the increasingly restrictive environment.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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