Warner, Rubio ask intelligence community for report detailing Chinese participation in 5G standard-setting
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to issue a comprehensive and unclassified report on China’s participation in the international standard-setting bodies for 5G wireless telecommunications technologies.
This report would allow companies in the U.S. to fully assess any existing threats to fair competition and push back against them.
“In 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s study on Huawei and ZTE drew attention globally to the security concerns associated with certain Chinese telecommunication and information technology companies,” wrote the Senators. “Similarly, we believe Chinese influence in our ISSBs is not fully appreciated, and the IC can play an essential role in filling the publicly available information gap—a necessary first step to countering this trend.”
American companies do not currently have access to crucial information regarding China’s alleged use of political influence in ISSBs or other anti-competitive practices, such as the state-directed coordination of large Chinese telecommunications firms. These practices can undermine fair competition, hinder the ability of us companies to sell and scale their technologies, and raise serious economic and security concerns for U.S. networks and future generations of wireless technologies.
Prompted by a series of anecdotal concerns raised to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) regarding China’s attempt to politically influence the ISSBs, the Senators urged Director Coats to issue a report detailing:
1. Overall trends in the ISSBs over the past decade and the implications of politicization of ISSBs;
2. Specific examples of attempts by China and other foreign adversaries to exert pressure or political influence within the ISSBs or at major telecommunication conferences to secure standards that are favorable to Chinese companies and patent holders, or that might introduce deficiencies into 5G networks; and,
3. How Chinese-led standards for 5G technologies will affect U.S. economic and security interests, including efforts by U.S. companies to sell and scale its technologies, the ability of the U.S. to position itself for future generations of wireless technology, and to protect against cyber intrusions and security vulnerabilities.
They concluded, “We hope that this report will be part of an ongoing effort to share more timely and relevant information with U.S. companies and our allies. The U.S. cannot tackle this issue alone and must work closely with our international partners—including the European Union, Great Britain, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—on how we may collectively strengthen security standards, supply chain management, and market share of critical technologies. To the greatest extent possible, we urge the IC to declassify relevant information.”
Sens. Warner and Rubio are the lead sponsors of bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China. Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.