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Trump declares national emergency over tech threats, Huawei in sights

U.S. President Donald Trump. (Kyodo)

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared a national emergency to ban American companies from using telecom technology and services provided by entities considered a national security threat, a move apparently targeting China's Huawei Technologies Co.

The executive order signed by Trump does not specify a country or firm, but the United States has urged other countries not to use Huawei's tech in their next-generation 5G networks, suspecting it could open up spying opportunities for China.

The order comes as the world's two largest economies expand tit-for-tat tariff skirmishes in an escalation of their long-running trade war, a development that has roiled financial markets and impacted global growth.

China's telecommunications giant on Thursday criticized the U.S. announcement, saying, "Restricting Huawei from doing business in the U.S. will not make the U.S. more secure or stronger."

The White House said in a statement, "The president has made it clear that this administration will do what it takes to keep America safe and prosperous, and to protect America from foreign adversaries who are actively and increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology infrastructure and services in the United States."

The order directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to work with other government agencies in crafting rules or regulations that would see the restrictions implemented within 150 days.

Huawei said, "Unreasonable restrictions will infringe upon Huawei's rights and raise other serious legal issues," while expressing willingness to cooperate with the United States to take "effective measures" to ensure the safety of the company's products.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters later Thursday that Beijing will carry out "further necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises."

Huawei is a leader in the field of the 5G technology, which will enable transmission of large amounts of data at extremely high speeds, allowing telecommunication devices to connect to almost all products and services through the wireless network.

Earlier Wednesday, meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expects to visit Beijing "in the near future," suggesting the United States may hold another round of trade talks with China before Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Osaka, in late June.

"My expectation is we will most likely go to Beijing at some point in the near future to continue those discussions and I think it's President Trump's expectation to meet with President Xi at the G-20 at the end of June," Mnuchin said at a congressional hearing.

He has led trade negotiations with Beijing alongside U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Mnuchin, however, said there was "still a lot of work to do" before the two countries could reach a deal to end the trade war.

The two countries made little progress in last week's negotiations, leading the Trump administration to raise U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trump has stepped up pressure on Beijing by threatening to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on an additional $300 billion of Chinese products, a move that -- together with duties imposed so far -- would see nearly all Chinese imports taxed.

Speaking at a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Mnuchin said he will attend a meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors slated for June 8-9 in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan.

The Treasury chief said he is in "constant touch" with his Group of Seven counterparts about efforts to address what the United States and other countries regard as China's unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfer.

Mnuchin said he will have separate talks with the G-7 finance ministers in Fukuoka to update them about issues involving China.

The G-20 groups the G-7 -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union.

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