NEW YORK -- A bipartisan group of American senators introduced a bill Tuesday to keep Huawei Technologies on an export control blacklist so that U.S. President Donald Trump cannot use the ban as a bargaining chip in upcoming trade negotiations with China.
The Defending America's 5G Future Act would bar the removal of Huawei from the Commerce Department's Entity List without an act of Congress, which would also have the power to disapprove licenses allowing exports to Huawei and its group companies.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
"The best way to address the national security threat we face from China's telecommunications companies is to draw a clear line in the sand and stop retreating every time Beijing pushes back," said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who spearheaded the legislation with Republican counterpart Tom Cotton of Arkansas, in a news release. "By prohibiting American companies from doing business with Huawei, we finally sent an unequivocal message that we take this threat seriously and President Trump shouldn't be able to trade away those legitimate security concerns."
Cotton expressed similar sentiments. "Huawei isn't a normal business partner for American companies, it's a front for the Chinese Communist Party," he said in the news release. "Our bill reinforces the president's decision to place Huawei on a technology blacklist. American companies shouldn't be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they'll use to spy on Americans."
Huawei has defended its cybersecurity record and has said there are no back doors in its products.
In a key escalation of Sino-American trade tensions this May, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and dozens of its affiliates to the Entity List, in effect banning exports of American technology and goods to the Chinese company.
But Trump tweeted last month that at the request of American technology companies and Chinese President Xi Jinping, "I agreed to allow Chinese company Huawei to buy product from them which will not impact our National Security." The announcement, which came after the Trump-Xi meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, drew immediate criticism in Congress.
Companies like Huawei "represent a threat to the security of U.S. and allied communications networks," said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat who also backed the bill, in the news release. "It shouldn't be used as a bargaining chip in a larger trade negotiation."