News Brief

Trump executive order targets Chinese tech giants over espionage worries

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday banning the import of technology “posing an unacceptable risk” to U.S. security. It marks the latest step in a uniquely bipartisan push to evict Chinese tech giants like Huawei from American networks.

Though the order does not name specific companies, it is expected that Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE, will be its primary targets when implemented.

Another part of the order will restrict U.S. exports to Huawei, which endangers the company’s ability to run the Android operating system on its devices.

In particular, it’s Huawei’s potential involvement in building 5G networks that has the U.S. worried. The company is thought to be closely linked to the Chinese government and is required by law to cooperate with Chinese security officials. Though these espionage concerns are the ostensible reason for the order, President Trump is also influenced by the U.S.-China trade war, as well as concerns over which country will dominate the future of global telecommunications. The New York Times reported that Trump was personally involved in crafting the order, and that he is fixated on the idea that the U.S. must “win” the race to develop 5G internet infrastructure.

As it stands, it has become clear that despite the U.S.’s efforts, Huawei will build much of the world’s 5G infrastructure.

The U.S. crackdown on Chinese telecommunications companies mirrors the far closer scrutiny China has put both foreign and domestic tech companies under in the name of “national information security.”

Samm Sacks, an expert at New America, drew the comparison on Twitter, writing that the executive order “sounds like China’s cyber security law.”