- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

President Trump moved Wednesday to ban U.S. entities from using telecommunications gear from companies with close ties to China or other potential foreign adversaries.

The order doesn’t single out specific firms but appeared to target such companies as Huawei — a Chinese firm that members of both parties have long eyed with suspicion.

The U.S. fears the Chinese government will use its power with the company to snoop on U.S. interests through Huawei’s products and equipment, a charge the firm has denied.

Asked why it took so long to act, a senior administration official said, “These things take time.”

Yet the move comes amid an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. It also comes as the Trump administration seeks the upper hand in building high-speed 5G broadband networks and wants to discourage American vendors from using Huawei as they build out their infrastructure.

The administration also wants European allies to shirk the company and seeks to bolster its argument by having the U.S. move on the ban first.

The order relies on emergency powers under which the Commerce secretary can block transactions involving technology that poses a risk of sabotage or “catastrophic” effects on American interests.

The administration said it tried to balance the need for an open investment climate with a realization that “malicious” cyberactions pose a threat to national security.

“The president has made it clear that this administration will do what it takes to keep America safe and prosperous, and to protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services in the United States,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Congressional hawks hailed the move as sorely needed.

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, dubbed Chinese tech components a “Trojan horse,” while others noted how the line between the Chinese government and China’s private industry remains fuzzy.

“Let’s cut to the chase: China’s main export is espionage, and the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese ‘private-sector’ businesses like Huawei is imaginary,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican. “The Trump Administration is right to recognize this reality and issue this order.”

A Huawei executive scoffed at the news, according to the Associated Press, saying it will not affect the company given its global footprint and growth in Europe since the U.S. labeled it a threat in 2012.

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