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By David Shepardson

US official says Chinese cloud companies like Huawei could pose threat

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo speaks during the High-Level Economic Dialogue Second Annual Meeting in Mexico City, Mexico September 12, 2022. REUTERS/Raquel Cunha/Pool

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday that Chinese cloud computing companies like Huawei Cloud and Alibaba Cloud could pose a threat to U.S. security and vowed to review a request to add them to an export control list.

A group of nine Republican senators on Tuesday urged the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co's cloud unit, Alibaba Cloud and other Chinese cloud service providers. They want Raimondo to add the companies to the Entity List, which imposes U.S. export controls on foreign companies.

Raimondo said the Chinese cloud companies could pose a threat. "I've put over 200 Chinese companies on the entity list in my tenure and we are actively, constantly investigating additional threats and if and as we think companies need to go onto the list, I will not hesitate," she said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

Raimondo said about a quarter of the Chinese companies on the export control list were added under her tenure "and we have to continue," she added, saying the department needs additional resources to review export control issues. "The threats are real."

The letter led by Senator Bill Hagerty said Chinese cloud computing companies "are increasingly engaging with foreign entities - in some cases sanctioned foreign entities - that are directly challenging the national security and economic security interests of the United States and our allies and partners."

Huawei Technologies and Alibaba did not respond to requests for comments. Hagerty asked Raimondo at the hearing to consider adding the companies, citing "very significant risks" and Raimondo said she would look closely.

"I am in broad agreement with you," Raimondo told Hagerty.

In May 2019, the Commerce Department added Huawei to the export control list over U.S. security concerns. The company denies that it poses a security risk.

"We urge you to use all available tools to engage in decisive action against these firms, through sanctions, export restrictions, and investment bans, and to further investigate PRC cloud computing service companies," said the Tuesday letter by Republican senators.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)

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