Trump declares ICT threat emergency amid Huawei fallout

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US president Donald Trump has issued an executive order, declaring a national emergency over ICT threats.

In a message to Congress on securing the ICT and services supply chain, Trump said: "I have issued an executive order declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by the unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries."

Although the order does not mention specific companies, it is widely believed to be targeting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Chinese companies like Huawei have found themselves in the crosshairs of a US-China trade war as Trump tries to get other countries to follow his lead in banning the use of their technology products and services due to "national security threats" linked to their close ties to the Chinese government and Chinese intelligence.

Huawei is the second biggest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung. It recently overtook Apple, which is now number three in the smartphone market. Huawei is also the world's biggest telecommunications equipment-maker, leading in technologies like 5G.

The US believes handsets and network equipment for telecommunications companies made by Huawei could be used by the Chinese state to spy on Americans.

It has also been pressuring allies to shun Huawei in their next-generation 5G networks.

Huawei has repeatedly denied installing any backdoors in its networking equipment for alleged government spying.

In his order, Trump says foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in ICT and services, which store and communicate vast amounts of sensitive information, facilitate the digital economy, and support critical infrastructure and vital emergency services, in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions, including economic and industrial espionage against the US and its people.

"Although maintaining an open investment climate in information and communications technology, and in the United States economy more generally, is important for the overall growth and prosperity of the United States, such openness must be balanced by the need to protect our country against critical national security threats."

To deal with this threat, Trump says, additional steps are required to protect the security, integrity and reliability of ICT and services provided and used in the US.

Huawei has issued a statement saying: "Restricting Huawei from doing business in the US will not make the US more secure or stronger.

"Instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers."

It added that "unreasonable restrictions" on Huawei raised other serious legal issues.

Despite continued Western pressure on Huawei's 5G business, the Chinese networking equipment-maker saw a 39% year-on-year increase in its first-quarter revenue.

According to Reuters, the ban on US suppliers, which appears similar to one on Huawei rival ZTE last year, could hit the shares of Huawei's biggest US suppliers, including chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom.

It adds that soon after the White House announced the order had been signed, the Commerce Department said it had added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its so-called Entity List - a move that bans the telecom giant from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

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