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Senators' new 5G legislation would keep Huawei blacklisted

Lawmakers say Huawei must be prevented from "threatening America’s national security."

Senators introduced the Defending America's 5G Future Act on Tuesday.
Andrea Verdelli / Getty Images

President Donald Trump may be ready to ease some restrictions on Huawei, but new bipartisan legislation aims to keep the Chinese tech giant blacklisted. The Defending America's 5G Future Act, led by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Maryland Democrat Sen. Chris van Hollen, would prohibit the removal of Huawei from the government's Entity List without an act of Congress. 

"Huawei isn't a normal business partner for American companies, it's a front for the Chinese Communist Party," Cotton said in a release on Tuesday. "Our bill reinforces the president's decision to place Huawei on a technology blacklist. American companies shouldn't be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they'll use to spy on Americans." 

The US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security added Huawei to its Entity List in May, following an executive order from Trump effectively banning Huawei from US communications networks. But earlier this month, Trump agreed to lift some restrictions in an effort to kickstart trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

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On Tuesday, van Hollen said a "clear line in the sand" must be drawn and the US must stop "retreating every time Beijing pushes back." 

"By prohibiting American companies from doing business with Huawei, we finally sent an unequivocal message that we take this threat seriously and President Trump shouldn't be able to trade away those legitimate security concerns," van Hollen said in a release. 

The legislation was also aided by Sens. Marco Rubio, Mark Warner, Richard Blumenthal and Mitt Romney. 

Van Hollen and Cotton's legislation is in company with a bill proposed by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul. McCaul's bill aims to boost the US' 5G presence and combat China's influence, according to a report from Reuters. 

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