Huawei says Trump’s ban order to leave US lagging on 5G

US president declares national emergency to block use of equipment from the Chinese company

Chinese telecommunications equipment-maker Huawei says a White House move to ban telcos from using its equipment will leave the “US lagging behind in 5G deployment” and harm US companies and consumers.

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that the White House said would help secure the ICT supply chain from foreign adversaries.

The order declares a national emergency, arguing that the “unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries augments the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in information and communications technology or services, with potentially catastrophic effects”.

As with a similar measure taken in Australia, the Trump order doesn’t explicitly mention Huawei or China.

However, the order allows the secretary of commerce to prohibit transactions involving ICT equipment or services “designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied” by entities “owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary” if the transaction poses a risk to national security.

A “foreign adversary” means “any foreign government or foreign non-government person engaged in a long‑term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or security and safety of United States persons”.

Within 150 days of the order, the secretary is obliged to publish regulations that implement the new measures.

“Protecting America’s communications networks is vital to our national, economic, and personal security,” the chair of the US Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, said in a statement.

“I therefore applaud the president for issuing this executive order to safeguard the communications supply chain. Given the threats presented by certain foreign companies’ equipment and services, this is a significant step toward securing America’s networks.”

“Huawei is the unparalleled leader in 5G,” a spokesperson for the Chinese company said in response to the order.

“We are ready and willing to engage with the US government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security.”

The spokesperson said that restrictions on Huawei will not make the US more secure but “only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers”.

“In addition, unreasonable restrictions will infringe upon Huawei's rights and raise other serious legal issues,” the spokesperson said.

The company in March announced it would sue the US over an earlier prohibition on the government using Huawei products and services.

The US has waged an international campaign pushing its allies to prohibit the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. Australia’s government in August moved to block the use of Huawei as a supplier for local telcos’ 5G rollouts.

In guidance issued to Australian telcos, the government said it was concerned the “involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised access or interference.”

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