Last December, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted two Chinese hackers who had spent the last decade stealing American trade secrets and other confidential information from U.S. business and government agencies. In January, the DOJ charged Huawei, a Chinese telecom company, and its chief financial officer with violating intellectual property law and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The Trump administration, at the risk of depleting already tense relations with China, plans to take the next step towards cracking down on cybersecurity. According to Politico, who spoke to a number of anonymous sources within the administration, President Trump is expected to sign a “long-delayed” executive order that will ban Chinese telecom equipment from U.S. wireless networks.
The administration is hoping to push the executive order through before the end of February in an effort precede major international conference MWC Barcelona, formerly known as Mobile World Congress, and send the message that America is cracking down on cybersecurity.
Huawei and ZTE, a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company, are trying to aggressively expedite the global implementation of 5G wireless networks and build out internet-of-things technologies. They are offering much lower prices than their competitors in an effort to gain market share in the industry’s early stages.
As foreign powers gain a leg up in this expanding technology, the White House is wary about allowing powerful Chinese corporations infiltrate and potentially control the American 5G market. National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis told Politico that the U.S. was “working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure.”
“We’re raising it at the highest diplomatic levels,” said State Department official Rob Strayer at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “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.”