New executive order set to exclude Chinese tech firms from US telecoms

The order, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign, would give the commerce secretary broad powers to stop American companies from doing business with foreign suppliers.
The order, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign, would give the commerce secretary broad powers to stop American companies from doing business with foreign suppliers. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • The Trump administration is poised to issue this week an executive order to secure American telecommunications networks, a move that is likely to result in barring Chinese tech firms such as Huawei, according to three US officials.

The order, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign by tomorrow, would give the commerce secretary broad powers to stop American companies from doing business with foreign suppliers.

In development for more than a year, it will lay out the administration's concern that foreign-owned or controlled suppliers of equipment and services could compromise the security of the United States' phone and Internet infrastructure.

The pending announcement comes as US officials continue to press their case with allies and foreign countries that companies such as Huawei, which has close ties to the Chinese government, pose considerable risk to burgeoning high-speed telecoms networks - what is known as 5G.

Officials cautioned that last-minute snags could delay the new order, which has been anticipated since last summer. The White House and Commerce Department declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The order, whose existence in draft form was first reported by The Washington Post in June, will not ban specific companies or countries, officials said.

But the regulations that result from the order, depending on how they are written, may have an outsize impact on China and Chinese-made technology, which US officials have come to view with increasing alarm.

 
 

"This is crossing the Rubicon - asserting government power to block commercial transactions," said Mr Clete Johnson, a former senior cyber-security adviser at the Commerce Department and now a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer.

"Just the authority itself could have enormous long-term implications in the US and global markets, and in US-China relations."

THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'New executive order set to exclude Chinese tech firms from US telecoms'. Print Edition | Subscribe