ICYMI: Ahead of U.S. House Voting 413 to 3 to Pass Her Bipartisan Bill to Build National 5G Strategy, Spanberger Calls on Colleagues to Protect Against Chinese Threats from Huawei & ZTE
Washington, January 9, 2020
**VIDEO/AUDIO: During Floor Speech, the Congresswoman Pointed to Risks Associated with Growing 5G Footprints of Huawei & ZTE, Highlighted Pressing Need to Defend U.S. Networks & Maintain Competitive Edge of U.S. Companies**
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger—a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee—yesterday spoke on the U.S. House floor ahead of the U.S. House of Representatives passing her bipartisan bill to protect U.S. 5G networks by a vote of 413 to 3.
Yesterday, the U.S. House passed Spanberger’s Secure 5G and Beyond Act, which would require the administration to develop an unclassified, nationwide strategy to protect U.S. consumers from foreign-based 5G threats and to assist allies in maximizing the security of their 5G telecommunications systems.
During her speech, Spanberger underscored the national security risks associated with the growing 5G footprints of Chinese tech firms like Huawei and ZTE. Additionally, she described how her legislation would build a national blueprint for preventing foreign interference, keeping U.S. companies competitive in the 5G space, and providing assistance to our allies.
Click here to watch her full speech. A full transcript of her remarks is below.
I rise today in support of my bill, H.R. 2881—the Secure 5G and Beyond Act.
First, I’d like to thank my fellow Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for approving this legislation—and I’d like to thank the House Energy and Commerce Committee for passing my bill out of committee on a strongly bipartisan vote last year, as well.
I’d also like to thank my colleagues Representative Brooks, Representative O’Halleran, Representative Rooney, Representative Slotkin, and Representative Stefanik for joining my effort to protect the next generation of U.S. telecommunications systems.
I’m proud to have such a strong bipartisan coalition backing my bill. And I’d also like to thank my colleagues in the Senate—Senator Cornyn and his bipartisan co-leads for prioritizing this very important issue.
When you turn on your TV, you might hear a lot of commercials advertising 5G and the expansion of U.S. 5G networks.
It’s true—this technology holds incredible potential for future economic growth here in the United States—particularly in our rural communities as they rely on these high-speed technologies to connect to the rest of the world.
However, the adoption of certain 5G wireless technologies presents many serious national security challenges for our country and the American people.
Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei continue to grow their global 5G footprint around the world. And as their equipment becomes more integrated into the economies of the United States and our allies, China’s leverage grows—as does the threat of Chinese exploitation.
It is difficult to overstate the long-term effects of the global transition to 5G. An article in The Atlantic earlier this week said, quote, “The rollout of speedy new cellular networks is a geopolitical turning point.” End quote. And China is working hard to take advantage of this rare moment.
Unfortunately, China’s long-term strategy and ambitions extend far beyond global commerce and communications.
For example, a 2018 NATO report warned that Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government could lead to Huawei 5G technology being used to spy on adversaries, monitor foreign companies and governments, and support Chinese military operations—all of which could be targeted at the United States and the American people.
The adoption of Chinese 5G could invite a deluge of foreign influence, espionage, and interference into U.S. mobile networks and wireless systems.
But simultaneously, China’s innovation edge is also growing through companies like Huawei and ZTE. As of February 2019, Chinese tech companies owned 36 percent of all key 5G patents, while U.S.-based companies only owned 14 percent.
This makes clear to me that the United States needs a comprehensive strategy—a strategy to respond to this growing level of economic competition and to protect against the security risks posed by ZTE, Huawei, and other 5G-focused companies. From afar, we’ve seen how China disregards the privacy of its own people—and we should be extremely wary of China’s growing 5G influence in the West.
We need a game-plan to defend our mobile networks. The United States—the country responsible for so many of the remarkable developments of the digital age—needs to strengthen our resilience against potential cyber-threats directed against American families, companies, and consumer data.
That’s why I’m proud to lead the Secure 5G and Beyond Act. My bill would require the administration to develop a public strategy to protect U.S. consumers, companies, and federal agencies against potential threats posed by emerging 5G technologies. By developing a national, interagency strategy, we can better identify where security gaps currently exist—and we can work to close them.
Additionally, my bill will help spur new 5G research and development here at home—something that’s critical for Central Virginia and the rest of the United States.
In the face of potential Chinese dominance in the 5G space, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act would put our country and its companies on a path toward achieving and maintaining greater security and a competitive edge.
But in our interconnected world, we can’t just go it alone. This bipartisan legislation would also encourage our allies to pursue similar strategies.
And as we look ahead to future generations of wireless technology, we need to deploy a strong, evidence-based approach toward improving our cyber-defenses.
Last year—then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford called the rise of Chinese 5G networks a “critical national security issue.” This bill recognizes that fact and does something about it.
We can continue to achieve faster internet speeds and wider connectivity across America—but this bill makes sure that these exciting achievements are accompanied by a smart strategy—one that can successfully prevent foreign influence in our 5G networks and keep our citizens safe.
Today, I call on my colleagues to pass the Secure 5G and Beyond Act.
The Secure 5G and Beyond Act would also require the administration to identify additional ways to spur research and development by U.S. companies as they look to stay competitive with Chinese 5G innovations.
Spanberger introduced this bipartisan legislation in May 2019 alongside U.S. Representatives Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21). The bill is the companion legislation to a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Richard Burr (R-NC).
According to a 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization report, Huawei’s growing influence as a leading supplier of 5G technology could be exploited by China to engage in espionage, monitor foreign corporations and governments, and support Chinese military operations. In November 2019, the Federal Communications Commission placed greater restrictions on Huawei and fellow Chinese tech firm ZTE due to widespread security concerns. However, the United States still lacks a comprehensive strategy.