Trump Declares National Emergency to Contain China Threat

The Trump administration has turned up the heat on China after declaring a national emergency designed ostensibly to protect US networks from “foreign adversaries.”

Although China and Huawei are not named in the declaration, it is widely seen as a move designed to target the latter. It will effectively extend the federal ban on Huawei equipment to all US firms.

Separately, and perhaps even more importantly, the Shenzhen giant and 70 affiliates have been placed on an “entity list.”

This means that it will not be able to source key components from US providers without Commerce Department approval.

Depending on whether this approval is granted or not, this could put the firm in a serious position similar to ZTE's when US firms were prohibited from selling to it after the Chinese telecoms firms broke Iran sanctions. At that time, only an intervention from Trump saved the company.

US officials told Reuters the decision would make it nearly impossible for Huawei to sell some of its products as they rely on US-made kit.

A White House statement revealed that the Executive Order invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows a President to interfere with commerce in order to protect national security. The Commerce Department now has 150 days to draw up an enforcement plan.

“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,” noted a message from the White House press secretary.

“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.”

Unsurprisingly, Huawei and China have hit back, claiming the order will not make the US safer but only result in delayed 5G roll-outs which will harm consumers.

Washington has so far failed to produce any hard evidence to suggest that Huawei is a national security risk, although Chinese law demands that any Middle Kingdom firm co-operate with the authorities if required.

However, UK intelligence services have raised serious concerns around the quality of the telecoms kit maker’s “security and engineering processes.”

Still, Prime Minister Theresa May recently overruled several Cabinet members in approving the firm to supply non-core 5G kit.

Steve Patton, director and cybersecurity Specialist at Telesoft Technologies, argued that a “measured approach” is needed to combat telecoms cyber risk.

“Even with a network built from other, non-Chinese vendors, there should be additional protection and — more importantly — monitoring of critical infrastructure to scan for threats,” he said.

“After all, given we live in a truly technological age, where cyber-threats are increasingly advanced, it's impossible to guarantee that any one vendor is fully immune from attacks.”

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