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US bans communications equipment from Chinese giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Smartphone with a Huawei logo (Reuters photo)

The United States has banned the import or sale of communications equipment from Chinese giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp.

US authorities have listed both Chinese companies as a threat, and declared them "an unacceptable risk to national security.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced new rules to bar future authorizations of their equipment.

The announcement made on Friday is the latest in a series of actions to limit the access of Chinese telecoms firms in United States networks, and comes amid increasing hostility between the world's two biggest economies, AFP reported.

US officials have exhibited growing suspicion in recent years of Chinese telecommunications companies and technology.

"The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders," said the commission's chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.

She claimed that the new rules are a part of measures being taken to guard against security threats.

The restrictions will also affect companies including video surveillance equipment firms Hangzhou Hikvision and Dahua Technology.

The US had already banned Huawei from supplying American government systems and called on to stop the use of its equipment in the private sector, claiming that Huawei equipment could be compromised by Chinese intelligence.

Washington has repeatedly accused Huawei of a "decades-long" effort to steal trade secrets from American companies. Huawei has time and again denied the accusations.

In 2019, former US President Donald Trump announced that Washington had blacklisted the giant tech, banning it from accessing American technology.

The FCC had voted to revoke the authorization for China Telecom's US subsidiary to operate in the United States.

The FCC had designated five Chinese companies - Huawei and ZTE, as well as Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. – as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting US communications networks.

“The United States, without any evidence, still abuses national security and state power to suppress Chinese companies," Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson at China's foreign ministry, said last year.

Critics of the US say that its motive in attacking Huawei among others is not because it is a genuine security threat but because it is a rival in a crucial sector of the world economy in which America has enjoyed supremacy for decades.

The US and China are at loggerheads over issues, including alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and Beijing's policies in regard to Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

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