President Trump declared a national emergency Wednesday in a move seen as an attempt to crack down on a single company. In an executive order, the president declared a national economic emergency, allowing the government to ban US companies from using telecommunications equipment from "foreign adversaries" that pose an "unacceptable" security risk, the BBC reports. The order does not name Huawei, but the Chinese telecoms giant is widely believed to be its target. In a statement, Huawei said banning its equipment "will not make the US more secure or stronger" and warned that the move would force companies and consumers to buy "inferior yet more expensive alternatives."
This is believed to be the first time the law Trump invoked, the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, has been used in a way that affects an entire sector, the AP notes. Adam Segal, cybersecurity director at the Council on Foreign Relations, says that after months of pressure on Huawei, the Trump administration apparently decided the "time had finally come to pull the trigger." In a separate move, the Commerce Department said Wednesday that it had added Huawei and dozens of its affiliates to its "Entity List," the Washington Post reports. The move—nicknamed the "death penalty" for the devastating effect it tends to have on businesses—bans the companies from buying technology or components from American firms without US government approval. (Read more national emergency stories.)