United States legislators introduce bills targeting Chinese tech companies

Ren Zhengfei

Huawei under investigation for allegedly stealing trade secrets

According to The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors are already in hot pursuit of a criminal investigation into the company for allegedly stealing US trade secrets.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and the Senate on Wednesday introduced the Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act, which would direct President Donald Trump to impose denial orders banning the export of American parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that are in violation of US sanctions laws. T-Mobile claimed in its filing related to the civil suit, that Huawei employees started asking T-Mobile about "Tappy", with some of the questions related to proprietary technology used to create the robot. A source told the WSJ that the federal probe is still in an advanced stage, but it could lead to an indictment soon.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for T-Mobile.

The U.S report warned that China could use network equipment for cyber-espionage, which in part prompted calls similar to those made this week from the provincial NDP: To have SaskTel release details of its Huawei contracts and investigate "potential problems the relationship could cause". The carrier sought $500 million in damages; three years later, T-Mobile was awarded $4.8 million by a jury.

According to the report, at the time that this alleged technology theft occurred, T-Mobile ordered Huawei handsets to sell to its customers. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, faces fraud charges in the United States over allegedly violating USA sanctions on Iran through a corporate subsidiary. The two companies were specifically mentioned because they were anxious that Huawei and ZTE's network switches were used to monitor the United States.

Huawei is the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment. While the company contested the lawsuit, it later conceded that its employees had acted improperly.

The tensions came amid a backdrop of Donald Trump's efforts to get more manufacturing on USA soil and apply hefty tariffs on Chinese goods for what the United States president has claimed were unfair trade practices by Beijing.

"Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army", Cotton said in a statement.

In a related move, USA politicians introduced a bill to ban the export of American parts and components to Chinese telecom companies that were in violation of United States export control or sanctions laws - with Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE the likely targets. As part of the agreement, the USA lifted a ban in place since April that prevented ZTE from buying the US components it heavily relies on to make smartphones and other devices.

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