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Trump to ban all Chinese telecom equipment from US networks, report says

President Donald Trump signs a bill. September 8, 2017. (Andrea Hanks/White House)
February 08, 2019

President Trump may soon move to block all Chinese telecommunication equipment from wireless networks in the United States.

The move is expected to come via executive order signed by Trump next week, sources told Politico late Thursday.

The order has been rumored for months and has been delayed. However, the administration intends to step up its cybersecurity against threats ahead of the release of 5G networks, and before Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona during Feb. 25-28.

“There’s a big push to get it out before MWC,” a source told Politico.

The move would demonstrate that tech firms must prioritize cybersecurity to do business with the U.S., especially in the 5G space.

The U.S. has previously asserted that Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE are connected to the intelligence agency of the Chinese Communist Party, and are accused of using their devices to spy on U.S. military bases.

In late December, reports indicated that Trump was considering a ban on Huawei and ZTE products.

Such an order would employ the executive powers through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, allowing Trump to declare the companies restricted foreign entities and a potential threat to national security. The Commerce Department would then be permitted to deny U.S. companies access to purchasing telecommunications equipment from the restricted companies.

Japan is also considering a ban that would bar their own government entities from purchasing Huawei and ZTE equipment in an effort to reduce cyber attacks and sensitive data leaks.

Australia already implemented a ban on Huawei and ZTE from their new 5G networks.

The equipment poses a risk because “hidden ‘back doors’ to our networks in routers, switches — and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment – can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in March 2018, as Reuters reported.

Huawei maintains 28 percent of the global telecom equipment market share, and are a key player in 5G networks across the globe. The company has been heavily restricted from the U.S. since 2012, which has impaired the U.S.’s own 5G development.

In November, Huawei warned that if restrictions were not lifted on the company, the U.S. would not be a leader in 5G technology, CNBC News reported.

“For Huawei, as leader in 5G technology, we don’t have the opportunity to serve the U.S. consumer with 5G solutions and services, then the U.S. market is a market without full competition while still blocking leading players from participation. Now, I’m not sure whether they can really deliver their objective of becoming the world’s No. 1 in 5G,” said Eric Xu, one of the chairmen at Huawei.