President Trump is expected to sign an executive order banning Chinese equipment from US wireless networks.
The decision, which comes ahead of a key industry conference later this month, sends a clear signal that US officials are prioritizing cybersecurity amid the global rollout of 5G infrastructure.
The directive “could further roil the Trump Administration’s already tense relationship with Beijing, especially if the US push erodes Chinese firms’ significant European market share,” reports Politico.
The directive targets Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, which have repeatedly been accused of spying and intellectual property theft and are considered by many to be a national security concern.
Huawei has been banned from selling its tech in the US since 2012. Starting last October, all federal agencies are banned from buying and/or using equipment produced by Huawei and ZTE.
In January, the Department of Justice announced charges against Huawei’s CTO, who faces extradition to the US for violation sanctions on Iran.
Despite these concerns, Huawei and ZTE continue to offer the lowest prices as tech companies throughout the world gear up to deploy 5G wireless networks. And with Huawei controlling 28% of the global telecom equipment market, it is unclear how US businesses will proceed with the 5G expansion if the directive is signed.
“The US still hasn’t developed an alternative, Huawei-free version for the massive, complicated and high-stakes global 5G buildout,” notes Politico.
In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security is examining tech supply chains to come up with criteria for security assessments as well as an “approved-manufacturers list.”
And officials at the State Department are warning other countries about 5G security. “We’re raising it at the highest diplomatic levels,” says Rob Strayer, the department’s top cyber official. “We’re making sure that the most senior policymakers in governments are aware of the momentousness of this decision and what is at stake in the decision they’re about to make.”
Author’s Note: Trump understands the Chinese want to spy on us and will continue to do so if given the opportunity. Here’s to hoping the directive is more than just a negotiations ploy and that he goes through with signing it.