President Trump issued an executive order Wednesday giving his administration sweeping powers to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. and other foreign communications firms from doing business in the United States — a long-anticipated move he had postponed while Washington and Beijing were in intense trade negotiations.
The White House said the president was taking the action 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.”
Trump’s directive does not name any company from China or any other country, and senior administration officials, in a hastily arranged press call, would not talk about Huawei or any specific firm.
But the order was widely understood as one that targets Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, which has been in the crosshairs of America’s security and intelligence agencies.
For months, U.S. officials have waged an aggressive campaign to restrain Huawei’s global expansion as a leading supplier of the next-generation 5G wireless networks. They have argued that using Huawei equipment poses risks of Chinese espionage or sabotage.
Huawei Technologies Co. is China’s largest telecommunications company.
Top Huawei executives have vehemently denied they would allow the Chinese government to use their products for surveillance.
With the trade talks at an impasse since Friday, Trump signed an order that was prepared months ago. Although officials would not attribute the timing to any specific factor, its release came amid an intensifying standoff between Washington and Beijing and immediately added a new level of friction. Already, the two have engaged in escalating rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs that could damage the world’s two largest economies.
Declaring the problem of foreign adversaries seeking to exploit technological risks to be a national emergency, Trump’s order formalizes what was a de facto ban on Huawei in U.S. markets in recent years as the Pentagon and Congress made moves to discourage its growth.
Washington has become increasingly worried about Beijing’s cyber intrusions and hacking of U.S. companies for sensitive information and technology and trade secrets. On Tuesday, during a Senate panel hearing on 5G and national security threats, lawmakers singled out Huawei in discussing the issue.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Now we’ve got a developing technology called 5G that if China dominates this market, we may not be able to do normal business or function normally, and we are sitting around looking at each other.”
参议院司法委员会主席、南卡罗来纳州共和党参议员林赛格雷厄姆(Lindsey Graham)说，“现在我们有一项正在开发的名为5G的技术，如果中国主导这个市场，我们可能无法正常开展业务或正常运作 ，我们只能坐在那里干瞪眼。”
The U.S. concerns about cyber theft were on the agenda during the trade talks with China, although U.S. negotiators reportedly dropped the issue recently.
No new talks are scheduled, although Trump and Xi are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit next month in Osaka, Japan.
There was no immediate reaction from China to the latest U.S. announcement.
Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said the Chinese would complain — “both for the sake of the trade talks and protecting Huawei's good name.”
美国企业研究所(American Enterprise Institute)中国问题专家史剑道(Derek Scissors)表示，中国人会提出抱怨——“既是为了贸易谈判，也是为了保护华为的好名声。”
“As a tactical ploy, Beijing might single out an American company as a security risk,” Scissors wrote in an email. “China has recently adopted a more sweeping national security review than ours and they could soon discover that some smaller American IT firm must be tightly restricted,” he said.
“The point of this would be to frighten bigger U.S. firms and have them lobby the administration.”
The executive order authorizes the Commerce Department, with the consultation of other agencies, to block U.S. businesses from transactions of information and communications technology or services from a “foreign adversary” that poses an “unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security. Officials said the Commerce Department would have 150 days to develop implementation rules, although interim procedures are expected.
The Commerce Department rules would be retroactive to the date of Trump’s executive order.
Under existing law, the U.S. government can block foreign firms from acquiring American technology firms, and with China in mind, Congress recently expanded this authority. Trump’s order significantly adds to the government’s toolbox.
“It is striking in how broad it is,” said Doug Brake, a broadband policy expert at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. He noted that the impact of the order would depend on how the Commerce Department implements this new power.
无党派智库信息技术与创新基金会(Information Technology and Innovation Foundation)宽带政策专家布雷克(Doug Brake)说，“它的覆盖面之广令人震惊。”他指出，这项命令的影响将取决于美国商务部如何实施这项新权力。
“So much rides on the processes Commerce sets up, how they do risk analysis of what can be allowed and what cannot,” he said.
The Trump administration, with bipartisan support in Congress, considers China a top strategic adversary and threat to America’s security and economic interests — and technology is a major battleground in this rivalry.
Against that backdrop, the White House has stepped up its rhetoric and moves to isolate Huawei and other Chinese telecom firms.
Although U.S. officials have offered no public evidence of malicious code or so-called back doors in Huawei equipment, they argue that its products can’t be trusted because Beijing could at any time order Chinese companies to do its bidding.
The Pentagon already has moved to block sales of smartphones made by Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese firm, at its retail stores in military bases. And last year’s Defense Department appropriations measure threatened to cut off federal funds to universities using components made by Huawei, prompting UC Berkeley, Stanford University and many other schools to sever new research partnerships with Huawei.
五角大楼已经采取行动，禁止华为和另一家中国公司中兴通讯在其军事基地的零售店销售智能手机。去年，美国国防部的拨款法案威胁要切断联邦政府对使用华为制造的零部件的大学的资助，这促使加州大学伯克利分校(UC Berkeley)、斯坦福大学(Stanford University)和许多其他学校切断了与华为的新研究合作伙伴关系。
Huawei also faces charges of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile. Meng and Huawei have denied all charges.
The company has fought back in recent months, filing a civil lawsuit in Canada and publicly denouncing Meng’s detention as politically motivated and a violation of her rights.