U.S. Senator Tom Cotton has now proposed a bill that could ultimately extend existing blocks against Huawei to other countries on a global scale. While Huawei isn't specifically addressed in the bill, it does indicate new rules for sharing intelligence with other countries. The key point in question is that it seeks to force agencies to consider the operator or supplier of key infrastructure in a region before sharing intelligence.
The bill more directly requires consideration of whether or not the equipment originates in China or Russia. That places Huawei squarely in the crosshairs. While the company is among the most prominent suppliers of 5G technology, it's also definitively based in China. So, if the bill passes into law, any country using Huawei technology may suffer consequences for that.
Namely, US intelligence agencies may no longer be able to freely enter into agreements to cooperate on intelligence sharing initiatives.
A bid to blacklist Huawei globally via new laws
Tension over Huawei is ongoing and has been squarely in the spotlight since late 2018. In early 2019, the US government placed the company on an "Entity List" that made it more difficult for US companies to interact with it. Instead of free interactions, a special license is now required.
Huawei has denied allegations that it was spying for the Chinese government, which led to its blacklisting. The tech giant has claimed that the Trump administration seeks to use it as a bargaining chip in trade relations. That's since become a widely-held viewpoint among experts in the industry, although Huawei hasn't been altogether without blame.
The UK also sought to ban Huawei equipment, despite its position as a global leader on that front. But it has been reconsidering that decision in a push to get 5G to its citizens more quickly. This bill, if passed, could put that in jeopardy.
That's not the only area where Huawei has seen support either. As recently as December, US-based Qualcomm reached out in defense of the Chinese tech giant. According to the US chipmaker, Huawei is a vital part of the 5G evolution and cooperation is needed.
That's not only because Huawei is a world leader either, but because global standards need to be established for the technology to reach its potential. Without Huawei taking part, those global standards are all but out of reach, according to Qualcomm.
Will this bill actually pass through into law?
Prior to the introduction of the bill, there has been relatively strong support for keeping Huawei equipment out of the US but that doesn't mean there will be for keeping Huawei out of other countries. With long-standing allies strongly considering using Huawei equipment, such a law might place serious strain on international relations.
Not only isn't the UK the only country that has considered utilizing Huawei equipment. But the bill could put more strain on the already tedious trade negotiations with China. That will undoubtedly give at least a handful of lawmakers pause when it comes to deciding whether or not to pass the bill.