The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a 1977 law giving the president the power to regulate interstate commerce in the event of an "unusual and extraordinary threat … to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States" that originates "in whole or substantial part outside the United States." Reuters noted the measure would direct the US Department of Commerce to draw up a plan of action for enforcement.
Earlier this week, several key blows were struck by Washington against Huawei, the world's second-largest cellphone maker, and other Chinese tech firms. On Thursday, the four largest US telecom carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — agreed not to use Huawei on their 5G networks, and the following day, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to block China Mobile, Beijing's largest telecom carrier, from access to US markets.
On Tuesday,the chairman of Huawei's Board of Directors, Liang Hua, indicated he was willing to sign a "no-spy" agreement with the governments of countries worried about the possibility of such spying taking place. The US intelligence community has long maintained that Beijing requires companies like Huawei to maintain "backdoor" access to its devices and to turn over customer data to the Chinese government.
"There is no obligation on Huawei's part to cooperate with the government in the way in which the Americans are indicating", Huawei Vice President of Western Europe Tim Watkins told the BBC Tuesday. "There is no mandate in [China's national intelligence] law that we have to hand over customer data or intelligence that we do not wish to hand over or we think should be sensitive."
Huawei's Chief Financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested late last year in Vancouver, Canada, and she now faces extradition to the US, where she is charged with allegedly conspiring to circumvent US economic sanctions against Iran. Beijing has called Meng's detention and the charges against her "politically motivated."