The Pentagon has issued a nationwide ban on Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE from being sold at US military base retailers. The US Deparment of Defense has expressed concerns over smart devices issued by the two companies, fearing that they may pose an “unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, information, and mission.”
The aforementioned risk refers to the US government’s fear that China could order Huawei or ZTE to create a backdoor in their devices for spying, a possibility that both companies have denied.
At the moment, the ban is only applicable to military institutions, and it does not forbid US military members from personally using Huawei or ZTE devices obtained from a civilian retailer.
Suspicion of Chinese electronics manufacturers has intensified under President Donald Trump. Last week, the US Department of Justice placed Huawei under investigation after the latter was suspected of violating US sanctions against Iran. If found guilty, Huawei could be looking at very severe penalties at best, or an outright ban at worst. It also doesn’t help the company’s case that its founder was once in the employment of the Chinese government.
The one who stands the to lose least from this policy is ZTE. As it stands, ZTE is already bearing the brunt of the country’s policies. Last month, the company was banned from purchasing components made by US suppliers because it had provided telecommunications equipment to North Korea and Iran, and lied about it to the US government.