Led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a group of senators wants Washington to look into Huawei-Sprint deal.  (Source: AP)
Senators outline Huawei's links to Saddam, the Taliban, and the Iranian military

The Washington Times reports that eight Republican U.S. Senators, led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), have written to top Obama Administration officials, expressly stating their concern over the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei's proposed bid to sell equipment to Sprint-Nextel.

"We are concerned that Huawei's position as a supplier of Sprint Nextel could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine U.S. national security," they stated in the letters, which were sent to the likes of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, and others.

The group of senators -- Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Kyl -- link Huawei's past sales to Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, while highlighting its current dealings with Iran. Huawei's relationship with the Iranian military should prohibit it from doing business with the U.S., they argue, because of the imposed sanctions on that country.

"Most troubling," though, are Huawei's "direct ties" to the Chinese military, the senators wrote. "At worst, Huawei's becoming a major supplier of Sprint Nextel could present a case of a company, acting at the direction of and funded by the Chinese military, taking a critical place in the supply chain of the U.S. military, law enforcement and private sector," the senators wrote.

Huawei is bidding to sell equipment to Sprint in an effort by the nation's third-largest wireless carrier to expand its wireless broadband network, Reuters reports. The senators are concerned about the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies using Sprint services. According to Reuters, the Huawei-Sprint deal would require at least an "unofficial nod" from the U.S. government to go forward. The senators' inquiry appears to be a major stumbling block for the deal.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong told The Times that he hoped "the U.S. will take a rational approach toward these normal commercial activities rather than do anything to stand in the way by abusing 'national security' concern."

In 2008, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment blocked a $2.2 billion merger between Huawei and U.S. telecommunications company 3 Com over national security concerns,Reuters reports.

Many will be watching how the Sprint-Huawei bid plays out, and the Obama Administration's reaction to the senators' inquiry. If the deal were to go through, it would mark a major breakthrough for the Shenzhen-based company, whose U.S. growth has been hampered by Washington's skepticism -- skepticism fueled by a fear of Chinese economic espionage.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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