22:14 GMT +309 December 2019
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    FILE - In this 29 January 2019 file photo, the logos of Huawei are displayed at its retail shop window reflecting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing

    GOP Senators Warn Microsoft of ‘Real & Urgent' Threat From Huawei Amid US Crackdown on Chinese Firm

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    Last month, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith expressed his disapproval of the way American regulators are treating Huawei, which has been on the US Department of Commerce’s blacklist since May.

    A group of Republican senators has sent a letter to Microsoft  president and chief legal officer Brad Smith to warn of Huawei posing a “real and urgent” threat.  

    The letter, which was issued on Tuesday and signed by Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott Josh Hawley and Mike Braun, specifically singled out an array of allegations that the Chinese telecom giant had engaged in “espionage activities” as well as “technology theft and economic warfare”.

    The letter also referred to “many American companies” which carried out “business in good faith with Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies”.

    “While the US government and American industry must take certain steps to protect our people and our telecommunications infrastructure, we do not want to cause undue harm to those American companies. We believe, however, that a review of publicly available evidence indicates that the security concerns about Huawei are real and urgent,” the senators claimed.

    Their letter followed Smith’s interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last month, when he specifically said that Microsoft had asked US authorities to explain their hawkish stance on Huawei to see if they had not acted without “sound basis in fact, logic, and the rule of law”.

    “Oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us’. And our answer is, ‘Great, show us what you know so we can decide for ourselves. That’s the way this country works’,” Smithy pointed out.

    The remarks came a few months after Microsoft cautioned that the US-proposed restrictions targeting Chinese companies risk having the country thrown out of international research collaborations and “could thwart US interests”.

    US Tightening Screws on Huawei

    In May, the US Department of Commerce put Huawei Technologies and nearly 70 of its affiliates on a blacklist, banning them from buying equipment from US partners without a government go-ahead.

    The move prompted several US corporations, including Google and Microsoft as well as major semiconductor makers such as Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom, to sever their ties with Huawei.

    US intelligence agencies have previously accused Huawei of putting “backdoor” access in its devices at the request of the Chinese government, which allegedly enables Beijing to spy on users. Both Beijing and Huawei have vehemently denied the allegations.

    The crackdown is part of an ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, which has been simmering since last year. The standoff recently escalated after President Donald Trump announced another hike on existing tariffs targeting $550 billion worth of imports from China, which came as a retaliatory move after a new round of tariffs was announced by Beijing.

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    blacklist, senators, crackdown, Huawei, China, United States
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