May 14, 2019

Feinstein Statement on 5G National Security Concerns

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke about the risks of using foreign 5G equipment—particularly Chinese-made equipment— and the need to protect our internal telecommunications networks against foreign espionage and interference.

            “What we see is a transition to fifth generation wireless technology, and that’s 5G. And what I’m told is that it’s going to fundamentally change our society, our economy, and our national security, so we all need to be concerned.

            I’m told it’s expected to provide exponential increases in speed, capacity and reliability of internet-connected devices. That will include a variety of revolutionary technologies from new methods of transmitting data; to new, advanced cell tower infrastructure and an untold number of new smart devices.

            I’m told 5G is expected to provide not only 20 times faster network performance, but also generate $12.3 trillion in global sales activity by 2035. I’m told its going to create millions of new jobs, and launch entirely new industries

            However, 5G also represents serious consequences for our national security. So, I think it’s very critical to understand and explore those issues as well. All of this is the purpose of today’s hearing.

            I thought FBI Director Wray said it well when he said this: [foreign] 5G technology ‘provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides capacity to conduct undetected espionage.’ Undetected espionage.

            Because of its economic and security implications, the ‘race to 5G’ has elicited fierce competition among companies and governments around the world.

            5G is a national, strategic priority of China. The Chinese government has invested more than $400 billion in development. It has supported Chinese industry efforts in international standard setting bodies. It has allocated domestic spectrum for 5G. It has supported deployment of over 350,000 5G stations in China - which is nearly 10 times as many as are deployed in the United States.

            Huawei alone has grown its global revenue from $28 billion in 2009, to $107 billion in 2018. One year ago, Huawei held 28 percent of the global telecommunications market, up four percent from 2015 alone. Today, 59 percent of all handsets sold in India are Chinese made.

            However, the root of our concerns with Chinese companies like Huawei is not their growth, but requirements placed on them by the Chinese government.

            According to a recent letter from Admirals Stavridis, Breedlove, Locklear, Keating, General Clapper, and General Alexander, China’s 2017 intelligence law requires all Chinese companies to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with the security services of China’s one-party state.’ The letter further states, ‘The Chinese cyber security law and other national strategies like ‘Military-Civil Fusion’ mean that nothing Chinese firms do can be independent of the state. Firms must support the law enforcement, intelligence and national security interests of the Chinese Communist Party – a system fundamentally antithetical to the privacy and security of Chinese citizens and all those using Chinese networks overseas.’

            So, exactly what does that mean? I think that’s a crucial question in this because this is so big. I’ve visited China for 40 years. Assuming the interpretation of this law is correct, I find this deeply troubling and I think every nation ought to think long and hard about the consequences of opening their internal telecommunications networks to this kind of data extraction and potential espionage. So we need to lead, but with caution.

            As a member of the Intelligence Committee for a long time now—and other members of this committee join me in that—I really view, Mr. Chairman, this hearing as just a beginning. This is revolutionary and we must note well all its aspects.”

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