US telecoms regulator designates China’s Huawei, ZTE as national security threats ; Dr Fauci warns US risks 100,000 daily Covid-19 cases if behaviours don’t change

US telecoms regulator designates China’s Huawei, ZTE as national security threats ; Dr Fauci warns US risks 100,000 daily Covid-19 cases if behaviours don’t change

On Tuesday, the United States telecommunications watchdog Federal Communications Commission officially designated Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. as threats to national security and banned American companies from using a fund to purchase their products.

This action means that the FCC bars telecommunications providers from using government subsidy money through the $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from the companies for their networks.

The FCC move aims at driving out Chinese manufacturers from the US market where small rural carriers rely on their cheap network equipment.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a new release that on the basis of overwhelming weight of evidence, the agency has identified the two companies as well as their parents, affiliates, and subsidiaries as national security risks to America’s communications networks – and to the nation’s 5G future.

Pai added that both firms have close association with the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus, and both are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services.

The FCC voted unanimously to block telecoms from using federal funds to purchase equipment from Huawei in November 2019, but the final order came into force yesterday.

This move to bar telecoms from using USF funds to purchase equipment from Huawei and ZTE could make it more difficult for smaller rural enterprises to provide affordable services.

Meanwhile, top disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci has told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day.

While testifying to a Senate committee on the effort to reopen schools and businesses, he said that Americans are not in control right now, and warned that not enough people are wearing masks or social distancing.

He also called on the US government to produce face masks to be distributed for free to all Americans, and condemned the “all or none phenomenon” of some people who have completely disregarded physical distancing measures.

During the hearing, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  said about half of all new cases come from four states.

Dr Fauci appeared before lawmakers alongside Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for Health and Human Services; Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner; and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control.

In his opening remarks, Dr Redfield said hospitalisations are increasing in 12 states and daily death toll is up in Arizona. They also discussed the difficulties education administrators face in reopening schools this fall. Giroir urged school leaders to follow Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in terms of testing, facial coverings and social distancing.

The surge that is being witnessed in southern and western states has forced at least 16 states to pause or reverse their reopening plans, according to a CNN report. Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are the four states referred to by Dr Fauci as being most heavily affected currently.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday increased the number of Americans who are required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the state. There are now 16 states on the list.

The US has registered 2,682,897 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, and has a total of 129,544 deaths.