Trump Lets Huawei Buy US Tech For Another 90 Days

Huawei logo displayed at the Mobile World Congress 2019. Photo courtesy of Huawei.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION has granted telecoms giant Huawei Technologies a third 90-day waiver from being banned from doing business with US companies. In May, Huawei was added by the US Commerce Department to the Entity List, an economic blacklist that is the backbone of the US regulatory regime intended to stop foreign companies from buying US-made products where Washington has national security concerns. (Huawei denies the US national security concern that the software in its kit might facilitate state spying.) It is from that blacklisting that the waivers apply.

As before the rationale given for the extension is to maintain telecoms service in parts of the rural United States that are dependent on Huawei kit. True, rural America voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the US presidential election in 2016, and he will want every one of those votes and more for his re-election campaign in 2020.  However, more than 200 US companies have asked the US government for the licenses that would allow them to sell components to Huawei regardless of the Entity List listing, suggesting the impact on the US tech sector may also have weighed in the latest waiver decision.

In May, US President Donald Trump directed the Commerce Department to establish a regime to enforce a ban on US companies from using telecoms equipment made by companies that pose a national security threat to the United States (for which read Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE). This is now a month overdue.

Huawei also remains banned from pre-loading its phones with Google apps. It can use only open-source components of Google’s operating system, Android. Huawei unveiled its operating system, HarmonyOS, in August, which it has reportedly been working on since 2012. This, however, was a developer version and while useable in Internet of Things devices does not seem ready to be used in mobile phones.

Earlier this month, Huawei’s first batch of phones without Google apps or US-made processor chips, the high-end and limited-run Mate X, went on sale in China. The foldable Mate X uses the Emui operating system, which is based on Android 9, not the HarmonyOS.

More significantly, Huawei’s chairman, Liang Hua, told a tech conference earlier this week, the company’s 5G base stations can be built without US parts. In October, Huawei claimed to have signed more than 60 commercial 5G contracts with carriers around the world, despite a US campaign to have carriers disengage from the company both to crimp its lead in the global race for 5G leadership and as part of the Trump administration’s general confrontation with China.

Where all this fits into the current US-China trade negotiations is anyone’s guess. What is certain is that China will continue its drive to be self-reliant for the core technologies its companies need such as advanced semiconductors.

3 Comments

Filed under China-U.S., Technology

3 responses to “Trump Lets Huawei Buy US Tech For Another 90 Days

  1. Pingback: Huawei Extradition Hearing Will Evaporate Trade Deal Goodwill | China Bystander

  2. Pingback: UK 5G Decision Muddles UK-US and UK-China Relations | China Bystander

  3. Pingback: ZTE Reportedly Under US Bribery Investigation | China Bystander

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