UPDATED 00:01 EDT / MAY 16 2019


President Trump signs executive order that mostly bans Huawei in the US

U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that bans American telecommunications firms from using foreign-made equipment that could present national security issues.

The executive order formally 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,” according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.

Although it doesn’t name any specific country or company, the bill is said to be targeted specifically at Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Along with being the world’s second largest smartphone maker by volume, Huawei is also a leader in fifth generation mobile data technology networks.

5G is the successor to 4G, the fourth generation of mobile technology, promising data transfer speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. 4G, by comparison, has a theoretical data limit of 100 megabits per second, though so-called 4G LTE for long-term evolution has been pushed as far at 1.45 Gbps in some cases.

As noted when the executive order was first rumored earlier this week, the order targets Huawei. U.S. officials have long raised concerns about its close relationship with the Chinese government. Their fear is that Huawei could install a “backdoor” inside its equipment that would allow China’s government to spy on U.S. communications. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations and to date, the Trump administration has yet to provide solid proof that the company does spy on the U.S.

The executive order was delivered on the same day the U.S. Commerce Department included Huawei and 70 affiliates on a “Entity List” that bans the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without government approval. According to Reuters, the move will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Huawei to sell some products because of its reliance on U.S. suppliers.

Although Huawei custom makes its own processors, even at a server level it’s difficult to provide products that don’t at some point involve a U.S. tech company — Qualcomm Inc. being the obvious candidate along with Intel Corp.

The executive order comes as a trade war between the U.S. and China continues to escalate. The Middle Kingdom claims it has done nothing wrong, while the Trump administration claims that China trades off the back of stolen U.S. intellectual property.

Photo: Duncan Riley

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