The brewing technology battle between the U.S. and China isn’t just about 5G telecom equipment Chinese companies want to bring to the U.S. It’s already starting to bleed into other tech categories, as shown in a new letter posted Monday from 11 senators and top officials from the departments of Energy and Homeland Security that called for a ban of Huawei-made solar technology.
The letter sets the U.S. up to not only block smartphones and telecom equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei, but nearly all tech it sees as a potential security threat.
The letter shows that U.S. officials will continue to fight against a full range of China-manufactured equipment, not just network equipment that would enable 5G connectivity.
The authors of the letter, including DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, say Huawei’s “smart” solar grid products, which include control systems called “inverters” that are capable of connecting to the wider electrical grid, present a danger to “critical U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure.”
The energy-grid worries are a new strand in the increasingly tangled web of technology disputes between China and the U.S., and one that will only further complicate trade talks. In just the past few months, the two countries have sparred over technology theft, knowledge-transfer laws in China, purported violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, trade-secrets theft of tech from companies such as T-Mobile, allegations of Chinese spying using exported equipment in U.S. networks and more.