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Trump Declares National Emergency to protect Communications Networks From Chinese

Part of a broader effort to keep the Chinese telecom giant Huawei out of the US market

 

Teenage Girl on a cellphone

Washington (dpa) - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared a national emergency aimed at protecting US communication networks in a move that is seen as part of a broader effort to keep the Chinese telecom giant Huawei out of the US market.

The move is consistent with Trump's commitment to protect the information and communications technology and services of the United States, a White House statement said.

The national emergency declaration is contained in an executive order Trump signed. It gives the Commerce Department the power to stop US companies from doing business with certain foreign suppliers.

While the order doesn't expressly mention China or Huawei - a major player in the rollout of the next-generation 5G network - they are widely perceived as the target.

A separate action by the Department of Commerce adding Huawei and its affiliates to the "entity list" - a list of companies considered to potentially pose a risk to national security or foreign policy interests - reinforced that perception.

The department announced the addition on Wednesday shortly after Trump signed the executive order, saying it stemmed partly from activities related to the indictment of Huawei by the Justice Department in January.

There have been 190 additions to the "entity list" since the start of the Trump administration, the statement said.

Trump's order is not restricted to a single technology, meaning other information communications technologies could be affected.

"The president has made it clear that this administration will do what it takes to keep America safe and prosperous, and to protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services in the United States," the statement said.

The US previously banned government agencies from contracting with Huawei or other companies that use its equipment amid worries that Huawei could use its dominance in the global 5G market to pass on information to the country's intelligence services. The US has also encouraged its European allies to sever ties to Huawei.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, welcomed the executive order and agreed that China was the target.

"We need to have a crystal clear view of the threats that we face," Pai told Fox News. "The order shows that we take these threats seriously."

He also noted that the FCC last week moved to deny China Mobile USA's application to offer telecom services in the US, saying the Chinese government-owned company poses a security risk. The application raised substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks, Pai said.

In January the US government alleged in an indictment that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile USA, charging the company's US affiliate with attempted theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and other offences that occurred from 2012-14.

The US Department of Justice also charged Huawei with violating US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has denied all the charges.

The indictment alleged the company's chief financial officer, who was arrested in December in Canada, committed numerous crimes. Canadian officials arrested Meng on a US warrant, and US authorities are seeking her extradition.

China's Foreign Ministry has complained about the indictment of Meng, saying the US should stop the "unreasonable suppression" of Chinese companies.

Cellphone tower disguised as a tree.

Washington is already engaged in an economic dispute with Beijing over trade. The two sides were close to a huge trade deal when China violated incremental agreements reached over months of negotiations, causing talks to break down last week, according to Trump.

China's Foreign Ministry earlier this week cited demands Washington had added prior to the breakdown.

The US last week increased tariffs to 25 per cent on 200 billion dollars' worth of Chinese products and Trump is looking "very strongly" at imposing another round that would affect 325 billion dollars' worth of Chinese goods.

Link to Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-securing-information-communications-technology-services-supply-chain/

 

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