US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency over technology designed or produced by ‘foreign adversaries,’ an act widely understood to target China’s ZTE and Huawei in an effort to freeze them out of 5G market.
Arguing that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services” the US increasingly depends on, Trump’s executive order on Wednesday declares an emergency over foreign-designed, developed, manufactured or supplied information and communications technologies.
The emergency order gives the Secretary of Commerce the authority to block any transactions that would pose “undue risk of sabotage to or subversion” of IT or communications technologies and services, or “undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of… critical infrastructure or the digital economy.”
There is also a catch-all provision intended to block anything that “otherwise poses an unacceptable risk to the national security of the US or the security and safety” of Americans.
The Department of Commerce is ordered to name the companies or technologies to be banned under the emergency, and told to developed an enforcement regime, all of which will take at least several months.
Though no countries are specifically named in the emergency declaration, both the Trump administration and Congress have repeatedly singled out China’s telecom giants ZTE and Huawei as potential threats to the US, in particular their development of 5G technology.
Beijing has condemned the measure as discriminatory, reacting to the reports in multiple US media outlets that the emergency order was in the works.
“This is neither graceful nor fair,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news briefing on Tuesday. “We urge the US to stop citing security concerns as an excuse to unreasonably suppress Chinese companies and provide a fair and equitable and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies to operate in the US.”
Trump’s action comes just days after US-China trade talks broke down without a deal, and the US placed into effect a tariff increase on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports.