Republican Senators Call On Biden To Sanction Chinese Tech Firms That Assist Communist Party
Senator Bill Hagerty, a Republican from Tennessee, speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 26, 2022.
Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nine Republican members of the Senate called on the Biden administration to introduce sanctions and export restrictions for Huawei and other Chinese cloud computing companies.

The move comes as tensions between the United States and China escalate over several espionage efforts from the communist nation, including a spy balloon that traversed the continental United States and reports of social media platform TikTok collecting data on American citizens. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), contend that multiple cloud services based in China threaten “national security and economic security.”

“We urge you to use all available tools to engage in decisive action against these firms, through sanctions, export restrictions, and investment bans, and to further investigate PRC cloud computing service companies,” said the letter, which was addressed to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The lawmakers said the cloud service offered by Huawei has helped Chinese officials “identify individuals by voice, monitor political dissidents, manage ideological reeducation and labor schedules for prisoners, and help retailers use facial recognition to track shoppers.” The White House has investigated Huawei over concerns that American cell towers using the firm’s devices were transmitting data on nearby military facilities to the Chinese Communist Party.

The firm also cooperates with Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute for an initiative called Spacety, which the Treasury Department recently sanctioned for providing radar data from Ukraine to a Russian state corporation. The Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, another partner in the Spacety initiative, is known to assist with weapons research and development for the People’s Liberation Army.

“In light of this, we therefore urge you to impose sanctions on Huawei Cloud under existing authorities for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of recently-sanctioned Spacety,” continued the letter, which was also endorsed by lawmakers such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).

Alibaba Cloud, which operates two data centers in Silicon Valley, is likewise “widely known” for providing services to the Chinese Communist Party. The lawmakers called for Alibaba Cloud to be named alongside Huawei Cloud on the Entity List, subjecting the firm to export licensure requirements, and asked officials to refrain from “liberally” granting export licenses to the company, as the Commerce Department has allegedly done in the past.

Officials in the Trump administration introduced trade restrictions against Megvii, an artificial intelligence image recognition venture backed by Alibaba, for reportedly assisting the Chinese Communist Party with enabling the mass detention and surveillance of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other minority groups.


Biden administration officials have unveiled sanctions against several Chinese firms over the past two years: President Joe Biden recently signed legislation banning TikTok from all devices owned by the federal government, while Raimondo moved to prevent funds allocated by the CHIPS and Science Act from helping with the development of semiconductors in China and other adversarial nations. The Federal Communications Commission released a final rule last year which bans Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, and Dahua from importing and selling certain products that the agency considers a threat to national security, although the new prohibition does not apply to technology already within American borders.

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