Trump to possibly sign an executive order banning Chinese telecom equipment, according to a report by Politico.
The story cites three anonymous sources, who all claim that Trump would possibly sign the order in the week following February 12th. The order will ban Chinese telecom equipment from US wireless networks before a major industry conference at the end of February.
The conference is MWC Barcelona and it will take place between February 25th and 28th. The aim is to signal the importance of cybersecurity in future high-end technology contracts.
According to a source close to the situation, as infrastructure for the next generation of ultra-high speed internet, known as 5G is being worked on, US Officials want “to move the needle” on security.
“There’s a big push to get it out before MWC,” said an industry anonymous source familiar with the matter.
The Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE have been in the Trump administration’s crosshairs as part of a broader focus on Chinese national security threats that has paralleled the ongoing trade war.
“In December, the Justice Department indicted two Chinese operatives for a decadelong campaign of digital intrusions into US businesses and government agencies. And in January, DOJ unsealed a suite of charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer, who faces extradition to the US for violating sanctions on Iran,” Politico reported.
Huawei and ZTE are also the companies who are pushing the most to establish the 5G infrastructure, since they are proposing lower prices than any of their competitors.
“Contracts are going out now,” one anonymous source told POLITICO. “Extra stigma could change the situation out in the countries on this major decision.”
“We’re going to be asking people to do things, but the US legal and regulatory environment hasn’t really closed the circle yet on this issue,” said Paul Triolo, who leads the consulting firm the Eurasia Group’s global technology practice. “So there’s a lot of pressure now to get this EO out there.”
The White House declined comment requests from Politico and CNBC. However, Politico cited National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis who said that the US was “working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure.”
CNBC did not receive a response from Huawei and ZTE for a comment.
The National Defense Authorization Act 2019 also banned agencies from buying and using Huawei and ZTE equipment.
State Department officials are warning their foreign counterparts about 5G security as often as possible.
“We’re raising it at the highest diplomatic levels,” Rob Strayer of the State Department said on February 6th. “We’re making sure that the most senior policymakers in governments are aware of the momentousness of this decision and what is at stake in the decision they’re about to make.”
Other western countries have also banned Huawei. These include the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Japan also blocked the Chinese tech giant. Meanwhile, India invited Huawei to participate in its 5G field trials in December 2018.
The message to Europe about 5G, according to Politico’s second anonymous industry source, has been, “Go slow. There’s no need to rush into this. We need to figure out how to do this now.”
The possible signing of the executive order may also be a way of pressuring China while the March 1st deadline to resolve the trade war.
In mid-January there were othere reports claiming that Trump was preparing an executive order aimed at restricting Chinese telecoms.
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