The friction shows the difficulties the government faces in translating its national-security agenda into the real world, where influential industries have developed deep ties to China over many years.
Congress and the Trump administration say the measures are necessary to lessen U.S. reliance on a strategic rival that could sabotage, hack or withhold important technology. Some U.S. companies argue that the restrictions will cost tens of billions of dollars and in some cases won’t improve national security.
“We are broadly supportive of the spirit” of a law imposing new restrictions for federal contractors, Wesley Hallman, head of strategy and policy at the National Defense Industrial Association, said in an interview, adding that “some suspicion of Chinese components” is warranted.
But “if you were to apply this law very broadly in the way it is written,” he said, “just about all contractors doing work with the federal government, they would have to stop.”
China hawks in Congress have raised alarms about the corporate pushback, accusing companies of putting profits before national security.
“Tech insiders are trying to gut provisions of the defense funding bill that would restrict use of Chinese tech products. Senate negotiators, don’t give in! This is not the time to go soft on #China,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tweeted Oct. 1.
“Under no circumstances should we weaken or delay implementation of our laws banning the U.S. federal government and government contractors from using Huawei equipment,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted this summer, a position his office said he maintains. “That would be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.”
The new restrictions have been proposed or enacted in a mix of bills, laws and executive-branch actions affecting a range of industries.
Prohibitions adopted with bipartisan support in an annual defense-spending law are drawing particular industry ire.