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Huawei faces restrictions on US procurement as Trump declares national emergency

Huawei and its 70 affiliates will be prohibited from buying American technology unless they have first secured the US government’s approval, under new rules announced on Wednesday (16 May).

The intervention forms part of a fresh crackdown against the tech giant, which has been accused by Washington of being closely linked to the Chinese Communist Party (an allegation which Huawei denies).

Donald Trump has also declared a national emergency that bans American telecoms companies from buying products from “foreign adversaries”, in a move that is likely to prevent Huawei from playing a part in the roll out of the US’s 5G networks.

It comes after the US banned Huawei from operating in government networks, and follows a long-running campaign to lobby allies against using the company’s telecoms equipment.

Washington officials have expressed concern about Chinese cyber security legislation that compels domestic companies to comply with intelligence investigations. Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, has said he would resist such efforts, but it is not clear if there is a legal mechanism through which he could do so.

In a statement, the White House said the order would “protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services”.

Huawei countered that the move “will not make the US more secure or stronger”. “Instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers.

“In addition, unreasonable restrictions will infringe upon Huawei’s rights and raise other serious legal issues.”

The decision comes at a sensitive moment in the US-China trade war. Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said: “Negotiations and consultations, to have meaning, must be sincere. First, there must be mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Second, one’s word must be kept, and not be capricious.”

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