US Launches $1.9 Billion Project to Replace Domestic Huawei and ZTE Equipment

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The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued a statement announcing that it will launch a reimbursement program worth $1.9 billion to help most rural telecom operators across the country dismantle the installed network equipment produced by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The committee claims the devices could pose a threat to U.S. national security.

According to the statement, the reimbursement program will start accepting applications at noon on October 29 and end at midnight on January 14, 2022.

Telecom operators applying for compensation need to meet two conditions: First, the number of their service customers must be less than 10 million; second, they must have purchased Huawei or ZTE telecom equipment before March 2020.

According to the South China Morning Post, this indicates that the Biden administration has continued the “rip and replace” plan of former President Trump, while the U.S. Congress has maintained a tough stance against Chinese technology companies.

According to Chinese media outlet Guancha, the FCC initially listed Huawei and ZTE as “national security threats” in November 2019. In March 2020, Trump signed a bill prohibiting American operators from using government funds to purchase network equipment produced by Chinese telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

Reuters said that the FCC then passed regulation in December 2020 requiring operators using Huawei or ZTE equipment to “dismantle and replace” this equipment. The FCC earlier estimated that it would cost $1.837 billion to dismantle and replace the two firms’ equipment from existing networks.

In March of this year, the FCC determined that five Chinese companies “pose a threat” to U.S. national security according to a law that came into effect in 2019, aiming to protect American communication networks. In addition to Huawei and ZTE, this list also includes Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua Technology.

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According to Reuters, as early as August 2020, the U.S. government banned federal agencies from purchasing goods or services from any of these five Chinese companies.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded on June 18 this year, saying, “We once again urge the U.S. to stop the wrong practice of generalizing the concept of national security and politicizing economic issues, so as to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises to operate normally in the United States. China will continue to support relevant Chinese enterprises to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests according to law.”