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Lawmaker Seeks to Tighten Restrictions on Huawei

Senator Tom Cotton (Republican-Arkansas) on 8 January introduced a bill (S. 3153) to prohibit the sharing of U.S. intelligence with countries that permit the operation of Huawei’s fifth generation telecommunications technology within their borders. A press release issued by Sen. Cotton’s office states that the United States should not share intelligence with countries that “allow an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party to operate freely within their borders” using 5G technology.

The legislation did not have any co-sponsors at introduction and has been referred to the Intelligence Committee, on which Cotton serves in the Republican majority. A short bill such as this one typically becomes a provision of larger legislation if enacted into law.

On 7 October 2019, Cotton had joined a letter by five Republican senators to the president of Microsoft summarising what they described as publicly available evidence of Huawei's espionage and technology theft. The lawmakers claimed that additional classified evidence exists and referenced a statement by Secretary of Defence Mark Esper that “Huawei is the means by which China would get into our networks and our systems, and either attempt to  extract information or to corrupt it, or to undermine what we’re trying to do.”

Last September, the United States signed a 5G co-operation agreement with the government of Poland, presumably to forestall installation of Huawei products in that country. Australia and Japan have agreed not to use Huawei equipment for their 5G networks as well. The United Kingdom and Germany have not yet made final decisions on possible use of Huawei equipment, but U.S. officials continue to raise this issue.

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