The U.S. is investigating Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei for potential surveillance capabilities at cell towers near U.S. military bases and missile silos, according to Reuters.
Authorities are concerned that China could exploit Huawei communications equipment in the U.S. to gather sensitive data on military procedures and personnel, Reuters reported Thursday. The Commerce Department reportedly opened the investigation in 2021.
Brendan Carr, the senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told Reuters that Huawei equipment near military bases, including Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, could allow the Chinese government to surveil troop movements and other electronic activities. This could give away preparations for any future missile strike on China, he said.
The Commerce Department subpoenaed Huawei in April 2021 for disclosures on the technology giant’s data collection and sharing policies, according to a 10-page document seen by Reuters. Huawei could access information related to cell phone usage, including message contents and geolocation data.
“Protecting U.S. persons’ safety and security against malign information collection is vital to protecting our economy and national security,” a spokesperson for the Commerce Department told Reuters. However, the spokesperson could not “confirm or deny ongoing investigations.”
Huawei has been the subject of increasing scrutiny from U.S. officials for its vast U.S. telecommunications infrastructure and close ties to the Chinese government. Former President Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei in May 2019 on national security grounds.
The Trump administration granted the Commerce Department investigative authority in 2019. If the investigation determines that Huawei comprises a significant threat to national security, a 2019 Trump administration executive orderallows the department to completely ban U.S. companies from dealing with Huawei, according to Reuters.
It would also require U.S. carriers to replace Huawei equipment, according to Reuters.
Nearly 200 smaller wireless carriers have expressed a desire to remove gear from Huawei and other Chinese companies but struggle to access the required funds, Politico reported Thursday. While Congress allocated $1.9 billion to assist companies with installing non-Chinese equipment in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, the FCC said on July 15 that the initiative will require an additional $3.1 billion, Reuters reported.
.@SecBlinken: “We don’t seek to block China from its role as a major power, nor to stop China—or any other country, for that matter—from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people.” Read or watch the full speech: https://t.co/ASE2VEGobF
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 12, 2022
Chinese industry experts expressed skepticism at U.S. motives in investigating Huawei, according to the Chinese state-run Global Times.
“The US has to provide evidence to prove its so-called ‘national security’ concerns, and how the data can be transferred to China,” Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Friday.
“Smearing Chinese firms, including Huawei, and creating barriers for their development, is the true intention behind the investigation,” Xiang added.
The Department of Commerce Office of International Affairs declined to comment. The Department of Commerce, Huawei, the Chinese Embassy to the U.S. and the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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