Eager to expand in the United States, China’s biggest technology companies face an America anxious about threats to jobs and national security.
The latest blow: A U.S. report that says telecom- equipment makers Huawei Technologies Inc. and ZTE Corp. are potential security threats that Americans should avoid doing business with.
The report, coming amid an American presidential race in which trade tensions with Beijing are a prominent issue, highlights conflicting U.S. sentiments toward China, an important trading partner but a potential strategic rival. U.S. companies see China as both a crucial growth market and a source of competition and industrial spying.
“A lot of people in America are worried about a diminishing role in the world and China being the prime beneficiary and potentially one day moving into that top slot,” said Charles Maynard, senior managing director of Business Development Asia, which advises companies on acquisitions.
Legislators are “playing to a lot of voters at home who are very concerned about that issue,” he said.
The report Monday by the House Intelligence Committee said U.S. companies should avoid doing business with Huawei and ZTE and recommended regulators block them from buying U.S. companies. It said government computer systems should not include components from them because they might pose an espionage risk.
China’s government rejected the report as false and an effort to block Chinese companies from the U.S. market.
The report has no official force but could discourage American telephone carriers from dealing with Huawei and ZTE, especially when it comes to the big-ticket network technology the Chinese companies are eager to sell.