US readies Huawei federal purchasing ban despite upcoming hearing

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Huawei’s Shenzhen office (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

The Trump administration released details of a rule on Wednesday that will officially bar US government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment from Huawei, despite the Chinese firm’s efforts to fight the move in court.

Why it matters: The rule comes after the latest round of trade talks between the US and China ended without a deal, making Huawei, again, a bargaining chip in a stand-off between the world’s two largest economies.

  • The prohibition cites the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed last year, which restricts the use of federal money to purchase telecom equipment from companies that pose national security risks, which include Huawei.
  • The ban is also part of a broader US push against Huawei over the fears that Huawei gear may provide backdoors for the Chinese government into American and its allies’ networks.

“The law provides Huawei with no opportunity to rebut the accusations, to present evidence in its defense, or to avail itself of other procedures that impartial adjudicators provide to ensure a fair search for the truth.”

—Song Liuping, the chief legal officer at Huawei, commenting on the NDAA

Details: The General Services Administration, the government agency responsible for contracting, issued the rule that bans Huawei and four other Chinese firms from supplying the federal government.

  • The rule also applies to ZTE, surveillance camera makers Hikvision and Dahua, as well as Hytera, a manufacturer of radio transceivers and radio systems.
  • The move will be come effective on August 13, one year after US President Donald Trump signed the NDAA.
  • The government will accept comments on the rule for 60 days before a final version is released.
  • A broader ban, which will apply to purchases from any US company that uses equipment from the above mentioned Chinese companies, will take effect in August next year.

Context: Huawei has questioned in court whether the NDAA is in accordance with the constitution. The company said on Wednesday that the rule was “not unexpected,” and it “continues to challenge the constitutionality of the ban in a federal court.”

  • Huawei filed a lawsuit on March 6 in Plano, Texas, where the company’s American headquarters are located, accusing the NDAA of being unconstitutional.
  • The company in March filed a motion requesting the court to rule in its favor in reference to the lawsuit.
  • The Eastern District of Texas court has scheduled a hearing for September 19 to hear Huawei’s claims.