US legislation steps up pressure on Huawei and ZTE, China calls it 'hysteria'
The proposed law drew sharp criticism from China and intensified an already bitter trade war between Beijing and Washington.
Washington/Beijing - Bills introduced shortly before report on federal prosecutors investigating allegations Huawei stole trade secrets
Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 6:56 PM
Last updated: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 8:26 AM
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced bills that would ban the sale of US chips or other components to Huawei Technologies, ZTE or other Chinese telecommunications companies that violate US sanctions or export control laws.
The proposed law drew sharp criticism from China where Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called the US legislation "hysteria", intensifying an already bitter trade war between Beijing and Washington.
The bills were introduced shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile US and other US businesses.
The Journal said that an indictment could be coming soon on allegations that Huawei stole T-Mobile technology, called Tappy, which mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones.
Huawei said in a statement the company and T-Mobile settled their disputes in 2017 following a US jury verdict that found "neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile's trade secret claim".
Hua urged US lawmakers to block the bills.
"I believe the action of these few representatives are an expression of extreme arrogance and an extreme lack of self-confidence," Hua said. "Actually the whole world can see very clearly that the real intent of the United States is to employ its state apparatus in every conceivable way to suppress and block out China's high-tech companies."
The legislation is the latest in a long list of actions taken to fight what some in the Trump administration call China's cheating through intellectual property theft, illegal corporate subsidies and rules hampering US corporations that want to sell their goods in China.
In November, the US Department of Justice unveiled an initiative to investigate China's trade practices with a goal of bringing trade secret theft cases.
At that time, Washington had announced an indictment against Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit for stealing trade secrets from US semiconductor company Micron Technology relating to research and development of memory storage devices. Jinhua, which has denied any wrongdoing, was put on a list of entities that cannot buy goods from US firms.
On Capitol Hill, Senator Tom Cotton and Representative Mike Gallagher, both Republicans, along with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Ruben Gallego, both Democrats, introduced the bills that would require the president to ban the export of US components to any Chinese telecommunications company that violates US sanctions or export control laws.