Huawei employees hit with US visa restrictions

The rules are due to human rights abuses, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
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Corinne Reichert
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Certain Huawei employees will be hit with visa restrictions in the US.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Trump administration has announced US visa restrictions on Huawei workers such as the refusal or revocation of a visa. The rules will be imposed on those employees of the Chinese tech giant "that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists Wednesday.

"The state department will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese technology companies like Huawei ," he said. 

Pompeo called Huawei "an arm of the CCP's surveillance state that censors political dissidents and enables mass internment camps in Xinjiang and the indentured servitude of its population." Any carriers worldwide that use Huawei's equipment "are doing business with human rights abusers," Pompeo added.

The decision relies on Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says visitors are inadmissible to the US if the Secretary of State has reason to believe their entry "would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States."

Huawei didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read moreHuawei ban timeline: Trump administration says company is backed by Chinese military

Speaking on the UK's decision earlier this week to ban Huawei from its 5G networks, Pompeo said it wasn't influenced by US sanctions. "They did this because their security teams came to the same conclusion that ours have ... that this information that transits across these untrusted networks that are of Chinese origin will almost certainly end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

He also reportedly said plans are being finalized for combating alleged data theft by TikTok, a Chinese video social media app.

"We hope to have a set of decisions shortly," he said. "Whether it's TikTok or any of the other Chinese communications platforms, apps, infrastructure, this administration has taken seriously the requirement to protect the American people from having their information end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

TikTok responded by saying there's "a huge amount of misinformation on TikTok out there," adding its CEO and chief information security officer are US citizens who it says have "decades of US military and law enforcement experience."

"TikTok US user data is stored in the US and Singapore, with strict controls on employee access," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Last month, the Trump administration announced its finding that Huawei is backed by the Chinese military. The Pentagon sent a document to Congress containing the names of 20 Chinese companies that it found to be backed by the People's Liberation Army, including Huawei.

Huawei was blacklisted by the US in May 2019 when it was added to the country's "entity list" (PDF). Trump at the same time signed an executive order essentially banning the company in light of national security concerns that Huawei had close ties with the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied that charge.

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