In a move that will like­ly add fire to the grow­ing trade war between the US and Chi­na, Pres­i­dent Trump has declared a “nation­al emer­gency” to pro­tect US com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works.

The Pres­i­den­t’s exec­u­tive order gives the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment the pow­er to bar Amer­i­can com­pa­nies from doing busi­ness with for­eign sup­pli­ers that could pose a threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty such as the Chi­nese firm Huawei.

The order autho­rizes the com­merce sec­re­tary to block any trans­ac­tion involv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies built by com­pa­nies con­trolled by a for­eign adver­sary that puts US secu­ri­ty at “unac­cept­able” risk or pos­es a threat of espi­onage or sab­o­tage to US net­works.

The deci­sion to block for­eign sup­pli­ers from pro­vid­ing their tech­nol­o­gy to US firms over secu­ri­ty con­cerns has been in the pipeline for almost a year. Accord­ing to one offi­cial, the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil had blocked the move for months but final­ly dropped its objec­tion once trade talks between the US and Chi­na reached an impasse.

Trump’s executive order

Pres­i­dent Trump’s exec­u­tive order did not go as far as to name any com­pa­nies or coun­tries specif­i­cal­ly but it will like­ly do the oppo­site of improv­ing rela­tions between the US and Chi­na.

The US has tried repeat­ed­ly to con­vince its allies and part­ners in Europe to bar Huawei’s tech­nol­o­gy from being used in their 5G net­works to no avail but an offi­cial ban may be able to con­vince them oth­er­wise.

The order is broad in nature and does not apply to any tech­nol­o­gy specif­i­cal­ly but instead it cov­ers a wide range of infor­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies. How­ev­er, accord­ing to offi­cials and ana­lysts, this could lead to legal chal­lenges from com­pa­nies who believe the order is over­ly broad.

The com­merce sec­re­tary will have to devel­op an enforce­ment regime under the new order and they would also be per­mit­ted to name com­pa­nies or tech­nolo­gies that could be barred. The order would also per­mit the sec­re­tary to con­trol the tim­ing and man­ner of how US com­pa­nies would cease using equip­ment from barred for­eign sup­pli­ers.

Via Wash­ing­ton Post

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