Prime News, International, (Washington DC), May 16:-President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday apparently aimed at banning equipment from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from US networks.
It declared a national economic emergency that empowers the government to ban the technology and services of “foreign adversaries” deemed to pose “unacceptable risks” to national security — including from cyberespionage and sabotage. While the order did not name specific countries or companies, it followed months of US pressure. It has given the Department of Commerce 150 days to come up with regulations.
In a clear slap at Huawei, the department also put the company and its affiliates on a list that requires them to obtain US government approval to purchase American technology.
Washington and Beijing are locked in a trade war that partly reflects a struggle for global economic and technological dominance.
The executive order addresses US government concerns that equipment from Chinese suppliers could pose an espionage threat to US internet and telecommunications infrastructure. Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of network gear, has been deemed a danger in US national security circles for the better part of a decade.
US justice and intelligence officials say Chinese economic espionage and trade secret theft are rampant.
US officials have presented no evidence, however, of any Huawei equipment in the US or elsewhere being compromised by backdoors installed by the manufacturer to facilitate espionage by Beijing. Huawei vehemently denies involvement in Chinese spying.
In a statement, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the executive order “a significant step toward securing America’s networks.”
“It signals to U.S. friends and allies how far Washington is willing to go to block Huawei,” said Adam Segal, cybersecurity director at the Council on Foreign Relations. Many in Europe have resisted a fierce U.S. diplomatic campaign to institute a wholesale ban on the Chinese company’s equipment in their next-generation 5G wireless networks.
The order’s existence in draft form was first reported by The Washington Post last June. Segal said that with US-China trade talks at a standstill, the White House “felt the time had finally come to pull the trigger.”
It is a “low-cost signal of resolve from the Trump administration,” Segal said, noting that there is little at stake economically.
All major US wireless carriers and internet providers had already sworn off Chinese-made equipment after a 2012 report by the House Intelligence Committee said Huawei and ZTE, China’s Number two telecoms equipment company, should be excluded as enablers of Beijing-directed espionage. Last year, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government and its contractors from using equipment from the Chinese suppliers.
Only about 2 percent of telecom equipment purchased by North American carriers was Huawei-made in 2017. The domestic economic impact will be restricted mostly to small rural carriers for whom Huawei equipment has been attractive because of its lower costs. That could make it more difficult to expand access to speedy internet in rural areas.
General counsel Carri Bennet of the Rural Wireless Association has said a ban would cost its 15 affected members at least USD 800 million to redo their networks to strip out Huawei and ZTE equipment. That doesn’t include the extra cost of next-generation equipment and upgrades from more expensive Western suppliers.
The association has about 60 members, none with more than 100,000 customers, though many are crucial partners for the nation’s four major operators, providing coverage in remote locations through roaming agreements.
Early this year, the Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Huawei, a top company executive and several subsidiaries, alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated US sanctions on Iran. The sweeping indictments accused the company of using extreme efforts to steal trade secrets from American businesses — including trying to take a piece of a robot from a T-Mobile lab.
The executive charged is Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder. She was arrested in Canada last December. The US is seeking to extradite her.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)