Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) questioned members of the intelligence community on the espionage charges swirling around Chinese companies Hauwei and ZTE, during a Tuesday Intelligence Committee open hearing on worldwide threats.
Cotton asked a panel of six experts to raise their hands if they would use a product made by either Chinese manufacturer. None of the panel members raised their hands, but asked if it would be better to discuss the company in a private hearing. Cotton agreed that might be more appropriate.
"I'll simply say that for the written record, though, I saw no hands go up, and while I'll defer to the closed session, I suspect that if I asked a fairer question that which is how many of you would recommend that people who are not heads of intelligence agencies—like your neighbors or church members or high school friends—use Huawei or ZTE ,there would also be six no votes of confidence," he said.
Earlier this week, Cotton praised the Justice Department's charges against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The charges included stealing trade secrets, obstruction of justice, and bank fraud by evading sanctions against Iran, according to a report from the New York Times.
Cotton has been pressing the Senate to investigate Huawei's role in cheating sanctions and aiding the Chinese government in spying. The Washington Free Beacon has reported that Huawei is a target in a Trump administration investigation into Chinese technology theft.
"Ordinary companies do not help rogue regimes like Iran evade U.S. sanctions, but Huawei is no ordinary company—it is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm for the Chinese Communist Party," Cotton told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. "Thanks to these indictments, we know more about China's collaboration with Iran, as well as its campaign of theft and economic sabotage against America. Huawei has played a key role in spreading China's spying capabilities around the world."