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Lawmakers Encourage AT&T to Nix Deal with Chinese Tech Company



U.S lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, , to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd for reasons of national security, Reuters reported.

Lawmakers also oppose plans by China Mobile Ltd to enter into the US mobile market.

The lawmakers are also advising U.S. firms that if they have ties to Huawei or China Mobile, it could hamper their ability to do business with the U.S. government, according to one aide who requested to remain anonymous; lawmakers were told not to speak publically about this issue.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday he did not know anything about these cases, Reuters reported.

“We hope that China and the United States can work hard together to maintain the healthy and stable development of trade and business ties. These accords with the joint interests of both”, Kang said at a daily press briefing.

In 2012, Huawei technology were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opening for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure, A claim that Huawei has repeatedly denied.

Huawei told Reuters, that it sells its equipment through more than 45 of the world’s top 50 carriers and puts the privacy and security of its customers as its top priority.

Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told Reuters: “The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications. China’s participation in setting the standards and selling the equipment raises many national security issues that demand strict and prompt attention”.

National security experts are concerned that any data from a Huawei device, for example about the location of the phone’s user, would be available to Chinese government intelligence.

US lawmakers do not want China Mobile to be given a license to do business in the US, the congressional aides said. The company applied with the FCC in 2011 and the application is still pending. Chinese telecom firms and manufacturers have struggled to get into the US market because of government pressure.

The US government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions not related to telecommunications also over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of US money transfer firm Money Gram International.

President Trump’s administration has taken took a harder line on policies related to China on all fronts in comparison to former president Obama.

By Zev Sondheim


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