Published: Thu, May 16, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Donald Trump declares national emergency over threats against American telecom

Donald Trump declares national emergency over threats against American telecom

The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a 1977 law giving the president the power to regulate interstate commerce in the event of an "unusual and extraordinary threat ... to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States" that originates "in whole or substantial part outside the United States".

Though no countries are specifically named in the emergency declaration, both the Trump administration and Congress have repeatedly singled out China's telecom giants ZTE and Huawei as potential threats to the United States, in particular their development of 5G technology. The order will direct the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement, the sources said.

Despite emphatic denials from the Chinese tech giant, there are still significant suspicions around the world about how close Huawei is to the Chinese government and whether, if expected to, it would plant back doors in its equipment to allow remote access. That is likely to hinder Huawei's ability to build at least some of its products unless it secures an export license from the USA government.

Reuters reports today that Liang says that is willing to sign a "no-spy" agreement with governments to make sure that its equipment is safe for countries to deploy. But it will affect small, rural carriers, some 25 percent of which use either Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks. Huawei, which has repeatedly denied such allegations, did not immediately comment on the executive order.

Huawei's chairman told reporters via an interpreter in London on Tuesday (May 14) the Chinese company would be willing to sign a "no-spy agreement" with the United Kingdom, The Guardian reports.

Senator Ted Cruz said the order would help protect 5G networks from Huawei.

Speaking about espionage concerns, Liang said Huawei was willing to sign a "no-spy agreement" with governments, including the United Kingdom.

The Commerce Department's move to put Huawei on its "Entity List" means USA companies will need a special license to sell products to the Chinese company. In December, Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Canada on suspicion of violating USA sanctions concerning Iran. The U.S.is seeking to extradite her. In January 2018, US carriers shunned Huawei's newly-launched flagship, the Mate 10 Pro.

The U.S. has sought without much success to persuade other governments to exclude equipment made by Huawei from super-fast 5G mobile networks that will connect billions of devices.

The Chinese company has denied that its work poses any risks of espionage or sabotage.

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