US gov't excludes Chinese high-tech companies from global supply chains over espionage charges

The U.S. government on Thursday stepped up its moves to exclude Chinese high-tech products from global supply chains, imposing a ban on federal procurement from companies using telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. and four other Chinese firms.

The move comes as U.S.-China relations continue to sour on the technology front, with the administration of President Donald Trump concerned that products marketed by Chinese firms with potential ties to the Communist Party-led government could be used for espionage and other activities contrary to U.S. national security interests.

Under the rules that came into force Thursday, the U.S. government is barred from doing business with companies using certain telecommunications and video surveillance services and equipment provided by Huawei, ZTE Corp., Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

Entities have to undergo a process to ensure they do not use such “covered” equipment and services, according to government documents.

The measures are included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which became law in 2018. In line with the law, The Trump administration has already banned the U.S. government from doing business with the five Chinese companies since August of last year.

Huawei, a leader in next-generation wireless networks known as 5G, has been a particular target for the Trump administration. The Chinese telecom giant has denied allegations of spying for China.

The new regulations are also likely to affect Japanese companies, as they may have to consider changes to avoid using products from the Chinese companies concerned.

The U.S. government conducts business with more than 800 Japanese firms, with many of the dealings Pentagon-related. In the fiscal year that ended September 2019, its procurement from Japanese businesses totaled around $1.5 billion, according to the U.S. government.

As the presidential election looms in November, the Trump administration has become increasingly critical of Beijing over its response to the coronavirus pandemic and has taken a series of actions to pressure the Asian country on issues related to Hong Kong, human rights abuses, and its assertiveness in the South China Sea.

China-bashing is seen as a way to appeal to U.S. voters amid worsening sentiment toward the world’s second-largest economy.

Trump has said that the United States should no longer rely on China and other countries for essential equipment, supplies or pharmaceuticals.

The administration has also vowed to take steps to safeguard American citizens’ privacy and intellectual property from what it views as China’s potential intrusions in a wide range of areas including mobile apps, cloud services and undersea cables.

This news is originally published at The Mainichi.