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White House considering executive order to bar Huawei and ZTE purchases

Published Dec 27th, 2018 5:23PM EST
White House Executive Order

The White House is considering an executive order to declare a national emergency that would bar US companies from purchasing telecommunications equipment from China, a new report says, with Huawei and ZTE products being the targets of the order. Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the order has been under consideration for more than eight months, but that it could drop as early as January.

Neither Huawei nor ZTE are mentioned by name in the order, the report says, but the US is looking to cut the two companies out of the US network equipment market, concerned that they may be working with the Chinese government and that their equipment can be used to spy on Americans. Commerce officials would interpret the order as an authorization to limit the purchases of Huawei and ZTE products, even though the two aren’t named.

Sources from the telecom industry and the administration said the order would direct the Commerce Department to block US companies from buying equipment from foreign companies that pose significant national security risks.

The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency, Reuters explains. US wireless carriers are preparing to roll out 5G wireless networks, and the government is looking to prevent them from acquiring parts from China.

A bill in August barred the US government from buying Huawei and ZTE equipment. A year ago, some US carriers were expected to launch a new Huawei smartphone, but that never happened, on advice from the US government.

A similar story earlier this week from The Wall Street Journal revealed how Huawei had a deal in 2014 to provide equipment to the Washington Redskins that would give fans free WiFi during matches, but the government stepped in and killed it. The contract ultimately went to Verizon and Cisco.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.