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US Senate moves to block Huawei–Sprint deal

Huawei’s continued attempts to break into the US market have hit another setback as US authorities move to stymie a potential contract between the Chinese vendor and the American operator Sprint Nextel.

Eight senators have signed a letter to the US Senate claiming that a deal between the two firms would represent “substantial risk” for American businesses while undermining national security, citing Huawei’s connections to the Chinese military and rumoured ties with regimes in Iran and several African countries.

Senator Jon Kyl, author of the letter, claims: “At worst, Huawei’s becoming a major supplier of Sprint Nextel could present a case of a company, acting at the direction of and funded by the Chinese military, taking a critical place in the supply chain of the US military, law enforcement and private sector.”

Kyl supports these claims by quoting a press release issued by the Chinese embassy in Iran, which states that Huawei held a position of “trust and alliance of major [Iranian] governmental and private entities”. The letter also suggests that the vendor had links with the Taliban and the regime of Saddam Hussein; the evidence that these allegations are based on is not clear at this time.

Huawei has stated that it complies with UN trade regulations in all the territories that it operates in - including the US – and noted that it was “disappointed to learn that old mischaracterisations about the company still linger.”

The concerns expressed in the letter are long held – Huawei’s US$2.2 billion bid for the American technology company 3Com was dropped in 2008 due to security concerns in the US. The issue has plagued the Chinese vendor’s exploits in the US – as recently as last month, Huawei reportedly lost its bids for Motorola’s networks business and the software supplier 2Wire, with security concerns once again cited as the key issue.

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