WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is considering an executive order in the new year to declare a national emergency that would bar U.S. companies from using telecommuni
It would be the latest step by the Trump administration to cut Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp, two of China’s biggest network equipment companies, out of the U.S. market.
The United States says the companies work at the behest of the Chinese government and that their equipment could be used to spy on Americans.
Huawei and ZTE did not return requests for comment. Both in the past have denied that their products are used to spy.
Rural operators in the United States are among the biggest customers of Huawei and ZTE, and worry that they may also have to rip out existing Chinese-made equipment without compensation. Industry officials are divided on whether the administration could legally compel operators to do that.
The executive order, which has been under consideration for more than eight months, could be issued as early as January and would direct the Commerce Department to block U.S. companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks, sources from the telecoms industry and the administration said.
In August, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government itself from using Huawei and ZTE equipment.
A White House official said the United States was “working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure,” but stated that the White House had nothing further to announce.
The Wall Street Journal first reported in May that the order was under consideration, but it was never issued.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that she did not want to comment on the order as it had not been officially confirmed.
FILE PHOTO - The logo of China's ZTE Corp is seen on the building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee
“It’s best to let facts speak for themselves when it comes to security problems,” Hua said.
“Some countries have, without any evidence, and making use of national security, tacitly assumed crimes to politicize, and even obstruct and restrict, normal technology exchange activities,” she added.
“This in reality is undoubtedly shutting oneself off, rather than being the door to openness, progress and fairness.”
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