Trump looking to officially ban Huawei and ZTE products: report: The White House is considering an executive order that would ban American wireless carriers from buying equipment from Chinese companies, according to a new report from Reuters. Such an order would primarily impact Huawei and ZTE — both Chinese companies, and two of the largest manufacturers of telecom equipment — and have a significant impact on the ongoing rollout of 5G network infrastructure.
It would be the latest step by the Trump administration to cut Huawei and ZTE, two of China’s biggest network equipment companies, out of the U.S. market. The United States alleges that the two companies work at the behest of the Chinese government and that their equipment could be used to spy on Americans.
Huawei and ZTE already face significant difficulties in the US market. Both companies were barred from US government use as part of a defense bill earlier this year, sending a strong message to carriers. ZTE faced catastrophic sanctions from the government over the summer, although the sanctions were ultimately lifted in the face of heavy lobbying.
A formal White House block on the technologies is unlikely to delay the 5G rollout, but it would further concerns that a division in network technology might give rise to an increasingly fragmented internet.
Huawei put the issue in even simpler terms in a general statement on 5G concerns published on Thursday before the Reuters report. “Barring Huawei from participating in various 5G markets is like an NBA game without all-stars,” Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping wrote on the company’s official WeChat page. “You can’t play to the highest possible technical standards.”
The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States.
The issue has new urgency as U.S. wireless carriers look for partners as they prepare to adopt next-generation 5G wireless networks.
The order follows the passage of a defense policy bill in August that barred the U.S. government itself from using Huawei and ZTE equipment.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she did not want to comment on the order as it had not been officially confirmed.
“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.”
Huawei and ZTE did not return requests for comment. Both in the past have denied allegations their products are used to spy. The White House also did not return a request for comment.
The Wall Street Journal first reported in early May that the order was under consideration, but it was never issued.