The Trump administration is pulling out the big guns in its push to slow China’s rise, with potentially devastating consequences for the rest of the world.
The White House on Wednesday initiated a two-pronged assault on China: barring companies deemed a national security threat from selling to the U.S., and threatening to blacklist Huawei Technologies Co. from buying essential components. If it follows through, the move could cripple China’s largest technology company, depress the business of American chip giants from Qualcomm Inc. to Micron Technology Inc., and potentially disrupt the rollout of critical 5G wireless networks around the world.
“The Trump administration action is a grave escalation with China,” Eurasia Group analysts Paul Triolo, Michael Hirson and Jeffrey Wright wrote in a note. If fully implemented, the blacklist would “put at risk both the company itself and the networks of Huawei customers around the world, as the firm would be unable to upgrade software and conduct routine maintenance and hardware replacement.”
The threat is likely to elevate fears in Beijing that President Donald Trump’s broader goal is to contain China, leading to a protracted cold war between the world’s biggest economies. In addition to a trade fight that has rattled global markets for months, the U.S. has pressured both allies and foes to avoid using Huawei for 5G networks that will form the backbone of the modern economy.
“This decision is in no one’s interest,” Huawei said in an emailed response. “It will do significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business, affect tens of thousands of American jobs, and disrupt the current collaboration and mutual trust that exist on the global supply chain.”