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Trump Declares National Emergency to Protect U.S. IT Infrastructure from Foreign Adversaries

May 18, 2019 by Luke James

On Wednesday 15th, President Trump signed Executive Order 109 (13873), Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain, and declared a national emergency.

This Order effectively bans U.S. companies from using foreign telecoms that are believed to pose risks to U.S. national security. President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday declared a national emergency over threats against U.S. technology, said the White House.

Due to an executive order, the Commerce Secretary was authorized, in consultation with other officials, to bar transactions that involve IT technologies that "[pose] an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States."

Throughout the past year-or-so, Huawei has been at the center of the US-China power struggle that has dominated the headlines.

The introduction to the executive order reads:

"I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services, which store and communicate vast amounts of sensitive information, facilitate the digital economy, and support critical infrastructure and vital emergency services, in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions, including economic and industrial espionage against the United States and its people."  

What Triggered the Order?

It isn’t clear just by the order itself, what prompted President Trump to act, however, it is believed to be in response to Huawei and its 5G ambitions. Huawei has gone on record to say that restricting its business in the U.S. will only serve to hurt American companies and consumers.

Over the last few months, several countries have raised concerns that Huawei products could be used by the Chinese authorities for spying and surveillance purposes. Although Huawei has denied these allegations outright, the concerns still remain.

As pressure mounts on U.S. allies to block Huawei and their 5G mobile network aspirations, this move by President Trump is rather apt. In addition to the executive order, the U.S. Department of Commerce barred Huawei from acquiring any technology from U.S. firms without prior approval from the government.  


The United States and China Maps. Image courtesy of BigStock.


These moves are undoubtedly going to worsen tensions between China and the U.S., tensions that have already begun to escalate further recently due to tariff hikes.

What Does the National Emergency Mean?

Through the act of declaring a national emergency, President Trump is able to bypass other branches of the U.S. government and gain access to a range of special powers.

At present, there are 33 national emergencies currently active throughout the country.

Some of the powers that a national emergency gives the president include the ability to call up military reservists, seize property, and seize control of land.

How is Huawei Responding?

"Restricting Huawei from doing business in the US will not make the US more secure or stronger," Huawei said in their statement.

"Instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers."

On Tuesday the 14th, Huawei chairman Liang Hua said that it was willing to sign "no-spy agreements" with national governments as concerns over Huawei's product security continue to grow.

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