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Trump bans Huawei in US markets, saying Chinese firm poses security threat

Don Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump issued a sweeping executive order Wednesday to block U.S. companies from using products made by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. and other foreign communications firms seen as a threat to America, taking a long-anticipated action that he had postponed while Washington and Beijing were in intense trade negotiations.

The White House said the president was taking the action 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."

Trump's directive does not name any company from China or any other country, but it clearly is aimed at Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer. U.S. officials have led an aggressive campaign to restrain Huawei's global expansion as a leading supplier of the next-generation 5G wireless networks.

With the trade talks at an impasse since Friday, Trump signed an order that was prepared months ago. It immediately added a new level of friction to the standoff, which has led to escalating tit-for-tat tariffs between the world's two largest economies.

U.S. officials argue that using Huawei equipment poses risks of Chinese espionage or sabotage. Top Huawei executives have vehemently denied they would allow the Chinese government to use their products for surveillance.

Trump's order formalizes what was a de facto ban on Huawei in U.S. markets in recent years as the Pentagon and Congress made moves to discourage its growth.

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Few Americans own Huawei cellphones and only a small number of local U.S. telecom service providers in rural areas have Huawei gear in their systems.

Even so, many in the U.S. intelligence community sought an official ban from the White House, saying it would make the dangers clear and help the administration's efforts -- so far only partly successful -- to persuade key allies to shun Huawei.

Washington has become increasingly worried about Beijing's cyberintrusions and hacking of U.S. companies for sensitive information and technology and trade secrets.

The U.S. concerns about cybertheft were on the agenda during the trade talks with China, although U.S. negotiators reportedly dropped the issue recently.

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