The U.S. government is already prohibited from using Huawei’s telecommunications equipment. Soon, the same might be true for U.S. companies.
According to a Reuters report Wednesday, president Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would bar U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies which pose a national security risk. This would pave the way for an effective ban for companies on doing business with Huawei, and potentially other Chinese companies such as ZTE.
The report, which cites three unnamed U.S. officials familiar with the matter, says the order has been under consideration for more than a year, but has been delayed several times — and it may get delayed again.
And while the order reportedly won’t name any specific countries and companies, it’s tailored towards Huawei, which the U.S. government deems to be a spy threat (and which Huawei has vehemently denied).
The U.S. started a soft ban on Huawei equipment around December 2017, when a group of U.S. lawmakers sent a letter warning about Huawei’s role in Chinese “espionage.” In January 2018, U.S. carriers shunned Huawei’s newly-launched flagship, the Mate 10 Pro. And in August 2018, president Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. government agencies from purchasing or using telecommunications equipment from certain Chinese technology companies, including ZTE and Huawei. In December, Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Canada on suspicion of violating U.S. sanctions concerning Iran. And the U.S. has been trying to coax other countries to avoid using Huawei’s 5G equipment, with Australia, New Zealand and Japan following suit.
The new order, if enacted, won’t change much for big wireless carriers, which aren’t using Huawei equipment, Reuters says. But it will affect small, rural carriers, some 25 percent of which use either Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks.
The order would also further intensify the trade war between China and the U.S., which has been heating up in recent days.
Meanwhile, Huawei continues trying to clear its name, especially in countries which have been reluctant to impose a ban, including Germany and the UK. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that Huawei would be prepared to sign a “no-spy agreement” with the British government.