May 15 at 4:37 PM

Amid a deepening trade war with China, President Trump on Wednesday declared a “national emergency” to protect U.S. communications networks in a move that gives the federal government broad powers to bar American companies from doing business with certain foreign suppliers – including the Chinese firm Huawei.

Trump declared the emergency in the form of an executive order that says foreign adversaries are exploiting vulnerabilities in U.S. telecom technology and services. It singles out economic and industrial espionage as areas of particular concern.

“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 Sanders said in a statement.

The order authorizes the commerce secretary to block transactions involving communications technologies built by firms controlled by a foreign adversary that puts U.S. security at “unacceptable” risk – or poses a threat of espionage or sabotage to networks that underpin the day-to-day running of vital public services.

[GOP senators raise alarms, criticize Trump as U.S.-China trade war heats up]

Wednesday’s announcement was expected nearly a year ago, and comes as neither Washington nor Beijing appears willing to back down in their ongoing economic dispute. The National Economic Council, which had blocked the move for months, dropped its objection as trade talks hit an impasse, said one official.

Trump’s executive order does not immediately exclude any specific firms or countries, but certainly will not lessen tensions with Beijing. It is consistent with Trump’s increasingly aggressive tack against China in which he has used tariffs as economic weapons, a tactic that he believes to be popular with his political base.

The move also boosts the administration’s somewhat uphill effort to persuade allies and partners in Europe to bar Huawei, which officials say is beholden to the Chinese government, from their next-generation 5G wireless networks.

[British government delivers scathing assessment of security risks posed by Huawei to U.K. telecom networks]

The order is not restricted to any one technology, such as 5G, but instead covers a swath of information communications technologies. That could invite a legal challenge from companies who believe it is overly broad, officials and analysts say.

Trump declared the emergency under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a 1977 law used by every president since Jimmy Carter to impose sanctions on countries such as Iran or Russia. It gives the president broad authority over economic activity.

Trump’s executive order instructs the commerce secretary to develop an enforcement regime and permits the secretary to name companies or technologies that could be barred, according to officials.

Should that happen, said Paul Rosenzweig, a former homeland security official in the George W. Bush administration, the banned firm “would assuredly sue.” Rosenzweig, now a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, a policy group that advocates free markets, …read more

Source:: Daily times

      

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Trump signs order to protect U.S. networks from foreign espionage, a move that appears to target China

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