Sen. Tom Cotton: Huawei Is a National Security Risk

May 22, 2019

By Justin Chermol

After Trump restricted U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei while the trade war with China drags on, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) says China represents a legitimate threat to American tech dominance, and that the two issues should be kept "separate."

"To allow American companies to export critical components like computer chips to Huawei, which then turned around to help build the next generation of wireless technology, would be something like allowing American companies to export munitions or steel to the Soviet Union in the Cold War," Cotton told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin Wednesday.

In a statement from a Huawei spokesperson, the company said it is "the unparalleled leader in 5G," and added that restricting the company from working with American businesses will be "leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers".

When asked if he was concerned about the crackdown potentially slowing down the growth of 5G technological capabilities in the U.S., Cotton responded, "No, I'm really not. Very few Americans use Huawei products of any kind."

"Huawei is a genuine national security risk, as are a lot of Chinese telecoms and tech companies," Cotton added.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration is also looking to blacklist Hikvision, a Chinese video surveillance firm. The Times also noted that this would be the first time the administration might punish a Chinese company for its alleged role in the mass detention of the Chinese-Muslim ethnic minority, the Uighurs.

"I have my doubts about a lot of Chinese companies ー companies that are closely affiliated with the government that are in their so-called Made in China 2025 plan, that are all designed to displace the United States as the world's largest economy and also as the world's true superpower," Cotton explained.

The Huawei-like sanctions reportedly being slapped onto Hikvision mark yet another move from the Trump administration that could intensify the ongoing trade war.

"The trade issue is separate, I would try to keep them separate," Sen. Cotton insisted. "But I would recognize that in all of those fronts, China is trying to get a better deal for their own people, their own nation, and they've been doing that for 30 years. So it's high time we engage them on that fight, and try to win that fight."