A bid by a key Chinese telecom equipment maker to supply network gear to Sprint Nextel has come under scrutiny by eight Republican senators who warned top officials of the Obama Administration that a deal would pose a threat to U.S. national security. The reported offer involves Huawei Technology, a Chinese firm that, in recent years, has catapulted itself to the rank of one of the largest global suppliers of telecom equipment. Boasting a significant presence in Europe and Africa (as well as in China), Huawei finished 2009 with revenues of more than US$20 billion. In a letter addressed to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the senators pointed to Huawei’s ties with China’s People’s Liberation Army and the company’s alleged past dealings with the regime of Saddam Hussein in arguing that “Huawei’s position as a supplier of Sprint Nextel could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine national security” in view of Sprint’s position as a supplier of communications services to the U.S. military. Citing claims that Huawei has received financial assistance from the Chinese government, the senators further cautioned that a contract between Huawei and Sprint “could present a case of a company, acting at the direction of and funded by the Chinese military, taking a crucial place in the supply chain of the U.S. military, law enforcement and private sector.” Though signed by Senators John Kyl (R-AZ), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Richard Shelby (R-AL), James Inhofe (ROK), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the letter does not represent the first instance in which questions have been raised about Huawei’s participation in the U.S. market. Two years ago, Huawei withdrew a $2.2 billion offer to buy out U.S. network equipment maker 3Com after the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. refused to sign off on the deal. Although Sprint declined to comment, a Chinese embassy spokesman emphasized that Huawei is simply a private enterprise that wishes to do business with a U.S. company as he voiced hope “that some people in the U.S. will take a rational approach toward these normal commercial activities.”