U.S. Commerce Dept mum on Huawei block, citing security

Huawei has been asking for an explanation for its exclusion from a U.S. government project

The U.S. Department of Commerce will not explain why it is blocking Chinese company Huawei from participating in a project to build a national wireless network, citing security reasons, a department official said.

"This was a national security decision about a public safety network," the official, who requested not to be named, said on Thursday via email. "The specific concerns won't be elaborated on, because we don't conduct national security analyses in public."

Huawei, a major telecommunications equipment supplier, has been seeking answers after it was denied participation in the project to create a nationwide wireless network for use by police, firefighters, and emergency personnel. On Wednesday, Huawei said the company had requested the Department of Commerce to explain the decision.

The department's National institute of Standards and Technology informed Huawei of the decision on Sept. 30, according to the official. Rebecca Blank, acting secretary for the Department of Commerce, made the decision after consulting with relevant U.S. government agencies, the official said.

The department's decision has no bearing on any other government projects, he added.

The denial is just the latest round of opposition the company has seen from the U.S. government over its business activities in the country. U.S. government officials have been concerned about Huawei's alleged ties with the Chinese military, and how networking technology bought from the company could be secretly used by China to spy on U.S. activities.

Huawei has complained the company is being treated unfairly. It has sought to clear its reputation and even asked the U.S. government to investigate the company. So far, the U.S. has shown no signs of taking that offer.

In this latest setback, Huawei has said the decision could have a "chilling effect" on its U.S. business activities, adding that the company is being played as a pawn in a geopolitical chess game.

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