Wrangling With China, Trump Issues Order Targeting Foreign Telecoms

(CN) – The White House formally announced an executive order on Wednesday to bar U.S. telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment on national-security grounds, a move widely interpreted as stepping up a battle with China by effectively stopping sales with Chinese tech giant Huawei.

A staff member uses a laptop computer at a display for 5G wireless technology from Chinese technology firm Huawei at the 2018 PT Expo in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

“This executive order declares a national emergency with respect to the threats against information and communications technology and services in the United States and delegates authority to the Secretary of Commerce to prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

On the heels of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Sanders added – without irony – that the Trump administration was committed to protecting the nation 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 executive order, titled “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain,” does not mention Huawei by name. It warns of “potentially catastrophic effects” justifying the need to declare a national emergency.

“This threat exists both in the case of individual acquisitions or uses of such technology or services, and when acquisitions or uses of such technologies are considered as a class,” the order states. 

Signed amid an escalating trade war with China, Trump uncharacteristically espoused the need for free trade.

“Although maintaining an open investment climate in information and communications technology, and in the United States economy more generally, is important for the overall growth and prosperity of the United States, such openness must be balanced by the need to protect our country against critical national security threats,” the order continues. 

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