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Lawmaker introduces bill to limit Chinese tech firm Huawei

The legislation comes at a time when trade tensions appear to be easing

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The U.S. and China are preparing to sign a partial trade agreement, easing tensions that have led to tariffs over more than a year.

But that may not be enough to ease U.S. suspicions of Chinese tech giant Huawei, which American officials have said is too closely aligned with the Chinese government and has been suspected of espionage and theft of intellectual property.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has introduced legislation to block the sharing of intelligence with countries contracting with Huawei to build out 5G networks. 

“The United States shouldn't be sharing valuable intelligence information with countries that allow an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party to operate freely within their borders,” Cotton said in a statement. “I urge our allies around the world to carefully consider the consequences of dealing with Huawei to their national interests."

It wasn’t immediately clear if the White House supports the legislation or if it has additional backing from other senators. For a time, the Trump administration banned the U.S. government and U.S. tech companies from doing business with Huawei, resulting in a lawsuit

A softer approach

In August, the U.S. granted a temporary exemption to the blacklist, mostly at the urging of U.S. tech companies. It was the second time the Chinese technology equipment maker was offered a reprieve since it was accused of stealing trade secrets, and it was added to a list of companies that are banned from doing business with American companies. 

Cotton’s bill is brief and to the point. It declares: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled...Intelligence of or under the control of the United States, including intelligence products 2 ARM20007 S.L.C. 0B1 2N GK2 1 of the intelligence community, may not be shared with any country that permits operation within its national borders of fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications technology of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.”

A Chinese delegation is expected in Washington next week to sign the Phase One trade agreement that President Trump has said will result in more U.S. exports to China.

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