U.S. lawmakers introduce bill to restrict Huawei's access to banks

Letterings that form the name of Chinese smartphone and telecoms equipment maker Huawei are seen during Huawei Connect in Shanghai
Letterings that form the name of Chinese smartphone and telecoms equipment maker Huawei are seen during Huawei Connect in Shanghai, China, Sept. 23, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to sanction Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies Ltd and Chinese 5G companies, restricting them from accessing U.S. banks.

The bill, introduced by Republican senator Tom Cotton and backed by lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, seeks to "severely sanction" Huawei, and other "untrustworthy" Chinese 5G producers who they say engage in economic espionage against the U.S.

The bill will add these entities to the Treasury Department's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, effectively freezing out of the U.S. financial system.

Huawei did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

China's Foreign Ministry said "China firmly opposes the U.S.'s generalisation of the concept of national security, (and its) abuse of state power to suppress Chinese enterprises".

Wang Wenbin, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, told at a regular press briefing that China would "firmly safeguard" the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies after U.S. lawmakers introduced the bipartisan bill.

U.S. lawmakers have tried to curb Huawei's access to U.S. banks in the past, proposing a similar bill in 2020 when President Donald Trump was in office.

"We've made great strides in recent years at home and abroad in combating Huawei's malign attempts to dominate 5G and steal Americans' data," Cotton said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We cannot allow Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Americans' personal data and our country's most sensitive defense systems," he added.

In October, U.S. prosecutors charged two Chinese intelligence officials with trying to tamper with the Huawei investigation. The two Chinese nationals had attempted to recruit a U.S. law enforcement agent to work as their spy, but the recruit was actually working as an agent for the United States, prosecutors said.

Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted rules banning new telecommunications equipment from Huawei.

Reporting by Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru; editing by Gerry Doyle and Jason Neely

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