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The US has outlawed the sale of Chinese-origin communications equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, prohibiting the use of some China-made surveillance systems due to an “unacceptable risk” to national security, in a fresh set of restrictions imposed on Beijing on Friday.
The Federal Communications Commission confirmed the move and said that its five-member panel voted unanimously to adopt new rules which will block the import or sale of certain technology products that threaten Washington’s critical infrastructure.
“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorised for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” said FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a prepared statement.
These new rules are an “important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” she said on Friday.
Other banned telecommunication equipment firms are China-based Hytera Communications, Chinese state-owned Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and partially state-owned Dahua Technology along with its subsidiaries and affiliates headquartered in Beijing, the FCC said.
These companies are known for their widely used video surveillance cameras.
The new rules implement the directive in the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden last November, that required the commission to adopt such rules.
It is the latest move against Beijing’s leading telecommunications equipment companies in years-long prohibitions rolled out by the US against Chinese technology – a trend seen under the Trump administration that has now continued under Joe Biden as well.
The new order is currently only applicable to future authorisations of equipment, but the FCC has said it is leaving open the possibility of revoking previous authorisations.
“Our unanimous decision represents the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorisation of new equipment based on national security concerns,” tweeted Brendan Carr, a Republican FCC commissioner.
He added that “no new Huawei or ZTE equipment” will be approved as a result of their Friday’s order.
“Additionally, no new Dahua, Hikvision, or Hytera gear can be approved unless they assure the FCC that their gear won’t be used for public safety, security of government facilities, and other national security purposes.”
There was no immediate response from Huawei, but Hikvision said that its video products “present no security threat” to the US, as claimed by the FCC.
The FCC’s decision, it said, “will do a great deal to make it more harmful and more expensive for US small businesses, local authorities, school districts, and individual consumers to protect themselves, their homes, businesses and property.”