The Trump administration now has new evidence that Huawei and as many as 20 other Chinese companies are owned or controlled by that nation's military. That's according to breaking reports citing a document said to be authenticated by an unnamed US defense official.
The document asserts that Huawei is among the companies said to be backed by the People's Liberation Army. The company has already been facing down sanctions and accusations from the US government and the Trump administration. But Huawei isn't the only company on the list. Video surveillance company Hikvision, China Mobile, China Telecom, and aircraft manufacturer AVIC are also on the list.
Now, the designations in the document were alleged to be pieced together by the Defense Department. And that's in accordance with a law stemming from 1999. The law requires the department to put together just such lists. Especially lists of firms that are "owned or controlled" by the Chinese military. Specifically, the list was set to include those that provide "commercial services, manufacture, produce, or export."
The companies and the Chinese embassy in Washington have reportedly not responded to questions on the matter.
This list could be published by Congress soon
According to the source, the document has now been sent over to Congress. And it could ultimately become public knowledge officially as a result. Bipartisan efforts have already been made to pressure the Pentagon into releasing the list.
As recently as September, Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have requested that Defense Secretary Mark Esper update the list and make it public. The sentiment was written out in a letter pertaining to concerns. Those centered around the possibility that China was enlisting Chinese companies, including Huawei, to use civilian technologies to benefit its military — echoing concerns expressed over the tenure of the Trump administration.
Huawei and other Chinese companies are not alone in the scrutiny
Huawei has already been on the radar for the US government for quite some time. The company and no fewer than sixty-eight of its non-U.S. affiliates were added to the Entity List in May 2019. That list prevents any US company from doing business with Huawei and the company's technology from being used in key areas of the US mobile network.
US companies such as Qualcomm have been reluctant to exclude Huawei, in particular, from business proceedings. Primarily, that comes down to the need for standardization on upcoming technology such as 5G. That's a sentiment that was echoed most recently by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt is currently serving as chair to the Pentagon Defence Innovation Board.
The newly reported document won't necessarily change that either. But it does profer new reasons for the US to impose new sanctions against Huawei and other Chinese firms. At the very least, those mentioned in the list. But it could also cause trouble for US companies with ties to those firms, explicitly called out in the document. Especially where partnerships are already underway between those companies.
Of the companies listed, the Chinese telecoms have also come under fire — albeit indirectly. According to recent reports, a watchdog group dubbed Team Telecom, as well as the FCC, are now being pressed over negligence as it concerns the monitoring of the groups' operations in the US. The companies are said to be under the control of the Chinese government. And they've reportedly been operating without oversight for 20 years.