President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk, paving the way for a ban on doing business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co.
The executive order invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States. The order directs the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement within 150 days.
Members of Congress said the order was squarely aimed at Chinese companies like Huawei that U.S. intelligence officials say could be used by the Chinese state to spy.
“China’s main export is espionage, and the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese ‘private-sector’ businesses like Huawei is imaginary,” Republican Senator Ben Sasse said.
Senator Ted Cruz said the order would help protect 5G networks from Huawei.
The order, which has been under review for more than a year, is aimed at protecting the supply chain from “foreign adversaries to the nation’s information and communications technology and services supply chain,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure,” he said.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Trump was expected to take action on the long-awaited proposal this week. The order does not specifically name any country or company, but U.S. officials have previously labelled Huawei a “threat” and actively lobbied allies to not using Huawei network equipment in next generation 5G networks.