The Pentagon Is Killing Sales of Huawei, ZTE Devices on US Bases

The First U.S. Casualty of a Trade War with China

Pentagon bans sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on US military bases

The Pentagon has banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones in retail stores on USA military bases, citing security concerns, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Eastburn was quoted as saying "it was not prudent for the Department's exchange services to continue selling these products to our personnel", because of USA intelligence concerns at their security.

The US is anxious that Huawei and ZTE phones and equipment could be used to "conduct undetected espionage", according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

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The aforementioned risk refers to the United States 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.

And in February, top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress that American citizens shouldn't use Huawei or ZTE phones.

The move by the Pentagon is the latest blow to Huawei and ZTE, which sell smartphones and telecommunications equipment around the world.

Only 2,400 Huawei and ZTE phones were sold on military bases past year, according to the Defense Department.

President Trump has threatened to place up to $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods as punishment for intellectual property theft.

The Department of Defense's order was confirmed to The Wall Street Journal by a Pentagon spokesperson who called the devices "an unacceptable risk" to operatives and their mission.

USA lawmakers and the Trump administration have pressured US companies to not sell Huawei or ZTE products, saying they potentially could be used to spy on Americans.

The Pentagon can't dictate what soldiers do when it comes to the phone they might purchase for personal use, but Eastburn said they "should be mindful of the security risks posed by the use" of these devices.

ZTE called the move "extremely unfair".

The military apparently fears that China would be able to use Huawei and ZTE phones to track soldiers and gather data about base operations, troop movements, and gatherings.

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