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U.S. leadership is needed to counter China’s state-run 5G technology, which endangers national security and global interests, hinders economic opportunities

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced legislation to increase America’s global leadership on 5G technology and provide an alternative to China’s dangerous state-run companies, which currently dominate the 5G market. The bill, Promoting United States International Leadership in 5G Act of 2019, brings a whole-of-government approach to competing with China to better protect our privacy, assets, allies, and stakeholders. U.S. Congressmen Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) are cosponsors of the bill.

Lead Republican Michael McCaul said, “China fully intends to become the pre-eminent global power – using tactics like hacking, cyber-attacks, intellectual property theft, and espionage to achieve its goals. Considering its long history of malign behavior and ongoing predatory practices, China’s majority control of the world’s 5G networks, interconnected devices and cloud storage is a risk we cannot accept. This bill better protects our national security and strategic interests by pursuing an alternative to China’s 5G campaign and ensures we set future standards. It will allow the State Department to bring a whole-of-government approach to its strategy for making America more competitive. It will also help secure U.S. leadership in 5G on the world stage in coordination with our allies and partners. We must do more than condemn China for its malign practices and aggression – we have to show up and compete. That’s what this bill will accomplish.”

“America is in a high-stakes battle between China for global leadership in 5G telecommunications—the revolutionary internet technology that will soon power everything from driverless cars to telemedicine to smart electric grids,” said Congressman Cuellar. “To become a leader in the future of communications technology, the U.S. needs to ensure they are at the table when setting international standards for the 5G network. This legislation calls for the Secretary of State to provide assistance and expertise for respective entities relevant to 5G so we can combat China’s influence in these groups. I would like to thank my fellow Texan, Congressman McCaul, for ensuring telecommunications and technology remain a priority for America.”

China is the most active espionage power when it comes to industrial espionage, theft of intellectual property, and actions against groups or countries that the regime perceives as threatening. Once China’s 5G technology has been installed in a country, China owns that nation’s data – including the personal information of its people – bringing unacceptable national security risk and endangering allied information-sharing. Chinese technology companies are beholden to the Communist Party and required by law to obey its directives, increasing the risk of 5G companies using the technology for malign purposes.

McCaul and Cuellar’s bill will help the United States counter China’s aggressive 5G expansion around the world by increasing U.S. leadership and participation at international standards setting bodies for 5G. The bill will provide a whole-of-government approach to assess the security risks posed by China in 5G and seeks to increase cooperation between the U.S. and its allies and partners in not only identifying those risks, but to also countering them. Further, the bill requires the State Department to come up with a strategy for diplomatic engagement with our allies and partners, like Japan and the Five Eyes, to share security risk information and methods for mitigating those risks. It also requires the State Department to work with our allies and partners to increase engagement at the international standards setting bodies. 

Furthermore, the bill will help increase America’s economic competitiveness in the world. Market analysis shows 5G technologies could create up to three million new American jobs and add over $500 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.