According to reports, China proposed building a 70-foot-high white pagoda in Washington, but US counterintelligence officials halted the project due to espionage concerns. The pagoda was reportedly planned to be built on a hill near the Capitol in 2017, along with a Chinese garden with temples and pavilions in the heart of the US capital. As per the report, the FBI had warned that China’s Huawei equipment atop cell towers on US military bases could pose a national security risk.
Because it was planned to be near the US Capitol, US officials expressed concerns about the pagoda project. According to reports based on FBI documents, there was increased scrutiny after Chinese officials wanted to build it with material shipped in diplomatic pouches that could not be checked by US customs.
In 2019, the former Trump administration placed Huawei on the US Commerce Department’s ‘entity list’, restricting suppliers selling technology to it due to national security concerns. As part of its move to blacklist the company, the Trump administration also barred the Chinese telecom giant from obtaining semiconductors without a special licence.
In a related development, the Biden administration is reportedly investigating Huawei over concerns that cell towers could transmit information from military bases, with Huawei likely gaining access to military drills and acquiring the readiness status of US military bases. Huawei has consistently denied conducting spying operations for the Chinese government.
FBI Director Christopher Wray previously stated that if Chinese companies like Huawei are given ‘unfettered access,’ they will be able to collect information that passes through their devices or networks. Federal subsidies cannot be used by US companies to purchase Huawei telecom equipment.