United States President Donald Trump is signed an executive order that essentially bans Huawei from conducting any kind of business in the country, the White House confirmed moments ago.
The move cripples stateside ambitions of any firm posing a national security risk to the U.S. It’s meant to prevent American companies from doing business with such entities, meaning Huawei is now being prevented from e.g. selling its devices via Amazon, which is something that it’s been doing so far for select models even as wireless carriers were unwilling to risk picking up its products and attracting the wrath of the U.S. government.
Washington already banned the federal use of Huawei-made devices and services last summer, with Congress doing so via an amendment to the last iteration of the U.S. spending bill which specifically named the Shenzen-based company, as well as ZTE, another Chinese firm specializing in smartphones and telecommunications equipment.
Both Huawei and ZTE repeatedly denied any sort of wrongdoing, describing U.S. campaign against their equipment as fearmongering stemming from Washington’s trade negotiations with Beijing that have been ongoing for over a year now, having yielded little results so far. Several months back, the Department of Justice also doubled down on the anti-Huawei sentiment by unsealing close to two dozen indictments against the company, alleging it violated fraud laws, intellectual property regulations, committed obstruction of justice, and was guilty of several other transgressions. At the same time, its Chief Financial Officer and founder’s daughter Meng Wanzhou is fighting a U.S. extradition request in Canada after the DOJ accused her of organizing an illegal banking scheme that defrauded several financial institutions and saw Huawei violate trade sanctions imposed on Iran.
At the end of the day, the government isn’t so concerned about what Huawei may have done or failed to do in the past but what it could realistically be compelled to do moving forward; existing intelligence collection laws in the Far Eastern country provide Beijing with essentially limitless powers of compelling both individuals and entities into doing their bidding on the data collection front.
Given how spying on private citizens is even an established problem that raises government overreach concerns in the U.S., it’s frivolous to assume the same isn’t happening in China where the political power is held by a more oppressive regime; one that isn’t concerned about winning fair elections.
There’s virtually nothing Huawei can do at this point but redistribute its resources originally intended for U.S. expansion plans to other markets, which is exactly what it’s been doing since last year. Europe has been the biggest beneficiary of that turn of events, even though many countries on the Old Continent are presently debating whether to ban Huawei-produced telecom solutions that the company is trying to push as a fast track toward the fifth generation of wireless networks.
The U.S. has been eager for its European allies to follow its lead but ended up pulling some counterproductive moves by being too aggressive in its insistence they do so. E.g. that’s precisely what made Germany reconsider its stance on Huawei, with Berlin stating they’re now willing to give the Chinese firm a fair chance at competing in the 5G market and won’t be blocking it “just because.”