- A letter from top U.S. officials and senators calling for a ban on Huawei-made solar equipment injects yet another complicated wrinkle in an ongoing and fierce series of tech disputes between the U.S. and China.
- Technology issues surrounding everything from alleged violations of Iran sanctions to trade-secrets theft and tech-transfer laws have hampered trade talks between the two countries.
- The issue will likely heighten the debate between U.S. officials, who say China’s tech companies work with the Chinese government to create tech that can be used against the U.S., and Chinese officials and business leaders, who have said these accusations are mere protectionism by the U.S.
The brewing technology battle between the U.S. and China isn’t just about 5G telecom equipment Chinese companies want to bring to the U.S. It’s already starting to bleed into other tech categories, as shown in a new letter posted Monday from 11 senators and top officials from the departments of Energy and Homeland Security that called for a ban of Huawei-made solar technology.
The letter sets the U.S. up to not only block smartphones and telecom equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei, but nearly all tech it sees as a potential security threat.
The authors of the letter, including DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, say Huawei’s “smart” solar grid products, which include control systems called “inverters” that are capable of connecting to the wider electrical grid, present a danger to “critical U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure.”
The energy-grid worries are a new strand in the increasingly tangled web of technology disputes between China and the U.S., and one that will only further complicate trade talks. In just the past few months, the two countries have sparred over technology theft, knowledge-transfer laws in China, purported violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, trade-secrets theft of tech from companies such as T-Mobile, allegations of Chinese spying using exported equipment in U.S. networks and more.