Donald Trump issues executive order laying ground for Huawei ban

Tuesday, May 21, 2019: President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that effectively bans US companies from using any telecoms equipment manufactured by China’s Huawei. The White House said the order declared a “national emergency” in relation to threats against US telecommunications and authorized the US commerce secretary to “prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk” to national security.

It will not apply to transactions that had been completed before the release of the order on Wednesday. The order, which had been debated internally since last year, came just days after the US and China failed to reach a deal to end the escalating trade war between the two economic powers.

It gives the commerce secretary 150 days to draft rules for implementing the policy. A senior US official said the order was “company and country-agnostic”, but it was widely believed to be aimed at Huawei. The US government also took specific action against Huawei on Wednesday by putting the Chinese telecoms company on the so-called Entity List, meaning that American companies will have to obtain a license from the US government to sell technology to Huawei.

China hawks in the administration had been pushing Donald Trump to sign the executive order amid rising alarm within national security circles about the vulnerability of Huawei-supplied wireless networks to Chinese spying. Trump had previously resisted because he did not want to affect trade negotiations.

In February Trump said he wanted the US to win the 5G ultra-high-speed mobile telecommunications race through competition and “not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies”. That was widely seen as referring to Huawei. Ahead of the decision, David Wang, a Huawei executive, said the company was not aware of the order but that the US was not a big market for the group. “We are a company with global operations. So even with fluctuations in any country, we will still be able to have stable operations,” he said on Wednesday.

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