When news broke that Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, was arrested in Canada for violating sanctions imposed on Iran, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was the biggest cheerleader. Rubio wants Wanzhou extradited to the United States.
“The arrest of Huawei’s CFO by the Canadian government for potential violations of Iran sanctions is welcome and I urge prompt extradition to the U.S. Huawei has direct ties to the Chinese government and Communist Party, has long posed a serious risk to US national security, and I continue to strongly urge Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G development, introduction, and maintenance,” Rubio said last week.
This week, Rubio, from his U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee perch, took to the national airwaves to hit Huawei and insist that companies like it and ZTE that are directed by the Chinese regime pose a threat to American security.
On Sunday morning, Rubio spoke about those companies on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
“We have to understand, Chinese companies are not like American companies,” Rubio told CBS. “We can’t even get Apple to crack an iPhone for us in a terrorist investigation. There isn’t a single company in China that doesn’t have to do whatever the government tells them to do. They are legally required to do it, and trust me if they don’t do it, they’ll find a new CEO to run that company, or a new company to take that company’s place. When the Chinese ask a telecoms company, ‘We want you to turn over all the data you’ve gathered in a country you’re operating in,’ they will do it. No court order, nothing like that, they will just do it. They have to. We need to understand that.
“I think both Huawei, ZTE and multiple other Chinese companies pose a threat to our national interests — our national economic interests, and our national security interests. And the Huawei case, what they’re accused of here, what she’s accused of, is violating the Iran sanctions. So at a minimum, we should be doing to them what we did to ZTE when they violated the sanctions law. Which included not having access to American suppliers. And I hope that’s what will happen. That’s what we’re encouraging the administration to do as soon as possible,” Rubio added.
Rubio has been taking aim at Chinese telecommunications companies in recent months. Back in February, Rubio paired up with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to bring out the “Defending U.S. Government Communications Act” to stop the federal government from contracting with ZTE, Huawei and other companies connected to the Chinese regime.
“Chinese telecom companies, like Huawei, are directly linked to the Chinese government and communist party,” said Rubio when the bill was introduced. “For national security reasons, we cannot allow a foreign adversary to embed their technology in U.S. government systems or critical infrastructure.”
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” said Cotton. “There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us.”
Rubio has been pushing against Chinese telecommunications companies working with the federal government. In June, Rubio wrote U.S. Education Sec. Betty DeVos warning her that Huawei is working with American colleges and universities and could be a security threat.
Back in August, Rubio paired up with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to bring out the “Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act” which, they insist, will “safeguard American workers and businesses from China’s economic cheating and unfair trade practices.”
Rubio’s and Baldwin’s bill would stop the sale of national security sensitive technology and intellectual property to China, ensure China is taxed for its holdings on the U.S. national debt and other investments in America and ensure the federal government doesn’t engage in businesses like Huawei and ZTE which are connected to the Chinese regime and have been accused of aiding in espionage.
Rubio offered his rationale for why he had brought out the legislation.
“As China undertakes a strategic effort to supplant and undermine America, we must protect our country by correcting an economic relationship that has become increasingly unbalanced,” Rubio said. “Our bipartisan bill will do just that by targeting China’s tools of economic aggression to guard the American people against its nefarious influence on national and economic security. How America responds to the growing threats posed by China is the single most important geopolitical issue of our time, and will define the 21st century.”
The senators noted the trade deficit with China has quadrupled since that nation joined the WTO back in 2001. They also pointed to reports that Chinese companies steal around $600 billion annually in intellectual property from American companies.