FCC designates Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as 'posing a national security threat'
This bars an $8.3 billion fund from being used to purchase their equipment.
Citing its close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally designated Chinese telecom giant Huawei as "posing a national security threat."
The FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau slapped the same designation on fellow Chinese firm ZTE Corporation, barring the FCC's $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund -- a subsidy for wireless carriers in rural America -- from being used to purchase any equipment from either Huawei or ZTE Corporation.
The companies have been blacklisted by the FCC in recent years, as critics have claimed their equipment could be used by China for spying. The move comes as U.S. lawmakers have also pressured other countries to boot Huawei from their budding 5G networks.
"With today's Orders, and based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the Bureau has designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks to America's communications networks -- and to our 5G future," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China's military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country's intelligence services."
"We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure," Pai added. "Today's action will also protect the FCC's Universal Service Fund -- money that comes from fees paid by American consumers and businesses on their phone bills -- from being used to underwrite these suppliers, which threaten our national security."
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr added in a separate statement that, "We cannot treat Huawei and ZTE as anything less than a threat to our collective security."
"America has turned the page on the weak and timid approach to Communist China of the past," Carr added. "We are now showing the strength needed to address Communist China's threats."
Huawei and ZTE Corporation did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment Tuesday.
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