US officials escalated their campaign against Huawei, adding it to a list of businesses barred from buying components from domestic companies and moving to block use of its equipment in the country’s telecommunications networks.

The move by the Department of Commerce (DoC) prevents the Chinese vendor from buying components from US companies without a special licence. The restriction is similar to one which crippled ZTE in 2018.

In a statement, the DoC said the action stems from information which “provides a reasonable basis to conclude that Huawei is engaged in activities that are contrary to US national security or foreign policy interest”. It said this includes activities alleged in a Department of Justice probe of suspected sanctions violations.

DoC secretary Wilbur Ross said the move addresses “the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the nation’s information and communications technology and services supply chain”.

However, Huawei hit back, arguing restricting it from doing business in the country “will not make the US more secure or stronger”. It added it is “ready and willing to engage” with the government to “come up with effective measures to ensure product security”.

Executive order
At the same time, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring threats to the country’s information and communications technology supply chain represent a national emergency. The move explicitly blocks transactions involving equipment or services supplied by companies deemed to be a security risk, and gives the DoC 150 days to establish a process for reviewing such deals.

While Huawei was not named in the order, the US government has long had the company in its sights for a ban.

In August 2018, the president took a step in that direction, signing a spending bill which blocked government agencies and contractors from using equipment supplied by Huawei and fellow Chinese vendor ZTE.