On May 15th, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring US firms from using telecom gear from sources the administration deems national security threats.
“I further find 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, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. This threat exists both in the case of individual acquisitions or uses of such technology or services, and when acquisitions or uses of such technologies are considered as a class.”
He continued saying that open investment opportunities are important, but they should be balanced with security.
Later on the same day, the reason behind the move became apparent: the US Department of Commerce added Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List.”
Department of Commerce Announces the Addition of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to the Entity List https://t.co/m89LRXAata
— U.S. Commerce Dept. (@CommerceGov) May 16, 2019
Essentially, Huawei was blacklisted just so that under Trump’s executive order it would be unable to buy parts and components from US components from US companies without US government approval.
The Chinese telecom giant also can’t implement its 5G system in the US.
“This action by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, with the support of the President of the United States, places Huawei, a Chinese owned company that is the largest telecommunications equipment producer in the world, on the Entity List. This will prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “President Trump has directed the Commerce Department to be vigilant in its protection of national security activities. Since the beginning of the Administration, the Department has added 190 persons or organizations to the Entity List, as well as instituted five investigations of the effect of imports on national security under Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962.”
Also, on May 15th, Donald Trump declared a national emergency to “Secure the Information and Communications Technology Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain.”
“President Trump is acting once again to protect U.S. national security. This Executive Order addresses the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the nation’s information and communications technology and services supply chain,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Under President Trump’s leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure.”
The move is certain to exacerbate relations between China and US, especially since the trade war doesn’t show any signs of de-escalating. Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment provider on the planet and it is being accused of posing a spying risk to Western infrastructure networks.
On May 16th, Chinese Ministry of Commerce Spokesperson Gao Feng held a press conference.
In it he said that the US unilaterally and continuously has been escalating trade disputes and has caused serious setbacks in China-US negotiations.
He further spoke regarding security. China has always required its enterprises to implement domestic laws and rules on national export control, fulfill their international obligations in export control and observe the laws and regulations of host countries, Gao said.
“We are firmly against any unilateral sanction against Chinese entities by any country based on its own domestic laws, and to the generalization of the ‘national security’ concept as well as abuse of export control measures,” Gao said.
“China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese enterprises’ legitimate rights,” Gao said.
The US is abusing the power of its government and deliberately discrediting and suppressing specific companies, which proves neither of glory nor justice, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on May 15th.
“We urge the US side to stop cracking down on Chinese companies by using security excuses and to provide a fair and unprejudiced business environment,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the ministry, told a press briefing.
On May 16th, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang further commented on the issue. China will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese companies he said.
“The Chinese side firmly opposes unilateral sanctions imposed by any country on Chinese entities in accordance with its own domestic law. We also oppose national security excuses and abuse of export control measures,” Lu Kang said. “We urge the US government to stop making mistakes and to create a normal business environment, avoiding causing further impact on China-US relations,” he noted.
Huawei is against the decision made by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the US Department of Commerce, which is in no one’s interest and will do significant harm to American companies that do business with Huawei, a Huawei spokesperson said in a statement.
“Huawei will seek remedies immediately and find a resolution to this matter. And it will also proactively endeavor to mitigate the impacts of this incident,” the spokesperson said.
“If the US restricts Huawei, it will not make the US safer, nor will it make the US stronger. It will only force the US to use inferior and expensive alternative equipment, lagging behind other countries … and ultimately harming US companies and consumers,” the spokesperson said.
Huawei’s David Wang, executive director and chairman of the company’s investment review board, told an event in Beijing that some countries have confused technical issues with ideological issues.
Network security is not a political issue, it is in fact a technical issue that should be addressed by cooperating on a broader scale, he noted. “Labeling a country or a company in relation to national security will not help tackle global network security challenges,” Wang said.
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