"The requests also sought highly sensitive, proprietary business information, which, we respectfully submit, no responsible company, foreign or domestic, would voluntarily produce," the statement added.
During Thursday's hearing, committee members also grilled Huawei and ZTE's representatives with questions on their relationships with the Chinese government. These included inquiries as to whether the Chinese government directly funded any company activities, and whether the companies were selling products at a loss in the U.S., which executives from both Huawei and ZTE denied.
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, however, said a key question was whether Huawei and ZTE had the independence to "say no" to the Chinese government. He then cited a Chinese state security law that would allow the Chinese government to inspect the communication equipment belonging to any company or individual.
Both company executives said they were unfamiliar with the law, but added that they would never harm a customer's networks. Schiff, however, said that despite the companies' good intentions, Chinese law and state of the country's courts would prevent them from denying authorities access to such equipment.
"The plain language of Chinese law would require you to make your equipment available to the Chinese government upon their request, and I see no opportunity for you fight that in the Chinese court system," he said.
Both Huawei and ZTE have been trying to expand their business in the U.S., but the companies, especially Huawei, have seen a resistance to their business activities. Last year, Huawei was denied participation in building a national wireless network because of security concerns, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersberger said in his opening remarks on Thursday that the investigation against Huawei and ZTE was not "political jousting" or "trade protectionism masquerading as national security," and pointed to how China is hacking into U.S. networks and stealing intellectual property from the nation.
Huawei, however, contends its difficulties in the U.S. stem from misconceptions that have distorted the company's record. To illustrate this, Huawei commissioned Dan Steinbock, an expert on U.S.-China trade relations, to write a report on the company, which was released the day before the hearing. In it, Steinbock argues U.S. lawmakers have yet to provide firm evidence to support their concerns against the company
"Today, Huawei is one of the most misunderstood companies in America," the paper said. "Huawei's activities in America are not a threat, but an opportunity to the United States."
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