A U.S. State Department official said the government is talking to its European allies, “urging folks not to rush ahead and sign contracts with untrusted suppliers from countries like China,” according to a report from Reuters.
The unnamed official said the State Department plans to take this message to U.S. allies throughout Europe. It seems to be mainly warning European countries not to buy Huawei equipment, but ZTE equipment could be a target as well.
The U.S. government has alleged that both companies pose a security risk because their telecom equipment could be used for spying. And it’s attacked the companies on multiple fronts, including introducing bills in Congress, denying money through the Universal Service Fund, and even asking for the arrest of Huawei’s CFO.
The Reuters source said that Washington will also use multiple tracks to thwart Huawei in Europe. Efforts include talks at the U.S.-led NATO alliance in Brussels and at international conferences in Barcelona and Munich.
The government’s reasoning for ganging up on Huawei in Europe is that the U.S. and European nations are military allies, so if the networks in Europe are compromised, that could affect U.S. security, as well.
ZTE’s Ongoing Problems
After a horrific 2018, ZTE seemed like it was out of the woods with the U.S. government. After intervention by President Trump, ZTE was allowed to resume buying components for its telecom equipment from U.S. companies. It did have to comply with some serious conditions though, including paying a $1.3 billion fine and replacing its management and board of directors.
But this week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill, the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, to ensure that ZTE complies with all conditions during the 10-year probationary period set forth in the settlement agreement.
Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Susan Collins and Jerry Moran sponsored the bill along with Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren and Doug Jones.
The legislation gives added oversight authority to the Secretary of Commerce, which has been directed to send regular compliance reports to congress.
All of this latest activity with Huawei and ZTE coincides with the U.S. government’s attempt to extradite Huawei’s CFO (PDF) Meng Wanzhou on charges she conspired to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.