U.S. to Investigate Huawei Equipment Close to Military Bases, Missile Silos

The Biden administration is investigating Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei over concerns that U.S. cell towers using its equipment could capture sensitive information from military bases and missile silos that the company could then transmit to China. The administration is concerned that the company could obtain data on military drills and the readiness of bases and personnel via the equipment.

The investigation was opened by the Commerce Department shortly after Biden took office early last year, following the executive order of May 2019 that gave the agency investigative authority.

The agency subpoenaed Huawei in April 2021 to learn the company’s policy on sharing data with foreign parties that its equipment could capture from cell phones, including messages and geolocational data.

The Commerce Department did not confirm or deny the investigation, but said “protecting U.S. persons’ safety and security against malign information collection is vital to protecting our economy and national security.”

Huawei has strongly denied U.S. allegations that it could obtain information from U.S. customers and poses a national security threat.

The Chinese embassy in Washington reiterated its objection to the U.S. government measures claiming that it abuses the concept of national security and state power to suppress Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies without providing any proof that they pose a security threat to the U.S. and other countries.

Huawei has already been hit with a slew of U.S. restrictions in recent years.

If the Commerce Department determines Huawei poses a national security threat, it could go beyond existing restrictions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Commerce Department could ban all U.S. transactions with Huawei, and demand U.S. telecoms carriers that rely on its gear quickly remove it.

Since 2019, the U.S. companies have been forbidden from using federal subsidies to buy telecom equipments from Huawei.

Cell towers equipped with Huawei gear that are close to sensitive military and intelligence sites have become a particular concern for U.S. authorities. Towers around Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base – one of three that oversee missile fields in the United States – ran on Huawei technology.

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