Sens. Warner, Rubio Warn of Using Huawei as Trade Leverage

There is bipartisan "deep concern" in the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Trump Administration is using Chinese telecom Huawei as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with the country.

That came in a letter to the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, from vice chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), both veteran critics of allowing tech from Huawei and ZTE, also a Chinese telecom, into U.S. networks.

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox this week that while he agreed Huawei is a national security threat, he would not say that Huawei's status would be off the table in trade talks.

The senators cited the President's comment in March that Huawei could be included in some kind of trade deal. They said that would set a bad example as the U.S. tries to convince allies of the threat of suspect tech in U.S. networks.

"Allowing the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure is harmful to our national security," they wrote. "In no way should Huawei be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations. Instead, the U.S. should redouble our efforts to present our allies with compelling data on why the long-term network security and maintenance costs on Chinese telecommunications equipment offset any short-term cost savings."

Related: Huawei-Scrubbing 5G Bill Introduced

FCC chair Ajit Pai Thursday (June 13) talked up the need for network security at an address to the U.S.-India Business Council in Washington. "When it comes to 5G, we cannot afford to make risky choices and just hope for the best. We must see clearly the threats to the security of our networks and act to address them," he said.

The FCC has proposed preventing broadband subsidy money to be used by any carrier using technology deemed to a threat to national security.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.