Pentagon orders stores to ban certain Chinese phones amid spying concerns

The Pentagon has ordered all stores on U.S. military bases worldwide to ban mobile phones and other telecommunications equipment made by the Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. after senior U.S. intelligence officials warned the phones could be used to spy on Americans and U.S. service members.

The products were removed from exchange service stores and exchange concessionaires worldwide following warnings from top U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers that Chinese mobile phones could track movements of the military.

In a statement, the Pentagon said, “Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the Department’s personnel, information and mission. In light of this information, it was not prudent for the Department’s stores to continue selling them.”

Officials told Fox News the Pentagon also recently terminated its use of BlackBerry smartphones, and now issues Apple iPhones, which also are assembled in China.

Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, told Fox News: “For security reasons, I can’t get into the technical aspects of potential threats.”

He added that, “The department is evaluating the situation and will determine the necessity of issuing additional guidance.”

Fox News previously reported in February that the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on global terror threats attended by the directors of the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency. 

Tom Cotton, the junior senator from Arkansas, asked some of the most pointed questions to the panel of U.S. intelligence officials during the hearing.

Cotton prefaced his questions by stating that there is a “threat posed by China and specifically Chinese telecomm companies.”

The senator added he had introduced legislation, along with other senators, which says that “the U.S. government can’t use Huawei or ZTE and the U.S. government can’t use companies that use them.”

Huawei is the world’s third largest smartphone maker, and ZTE is the fourth largest seller in the United States.