The US Federal Communications Commission has blacklisted Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE and their subsidiaries as "national security threats", barring US firms from using government funds to do business with them. However, the Trump administration has reportedly been holding talks with U.S. tech and private equity firms in an effort to wrest dominance of the new technology out of Beijing's control, floating possibilities including a government-backed consortium buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson - the two non-Chinese companies rounding out the top four 5G providers.
The orders designating the two companies as national security threats are available in-full for both Huawei and ZTE.
The U.S. contends that Huawei's equipment could be used by China for spying.
"W$3 e are deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks that provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure", FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the time.
"The Federal Communications Commission today took a major step in its ongoing efforts to protect US communications networks from security risks", the FCC said. The fund is a collection of subsidies through which the United States government can promote access to telecom services.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that the "weight of evidence" supported the decision.
"We can not and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure".
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment but have previously sharply criticised the FCC's actions.
In May 2019, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The agency is considering banning three Chinese telephone companies, and previous year barred China Mobile Ltd. from entering the US market.
In November, the FCC issued an order to prevent domestic service providers from receiving its Universal Service Fund grants to purchase wares from Huawei and ZTE.
The FCC granted its approvals to the firms more than a decade ago.