During a departmental meeting in Washington on Wednesday, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that “to implement the president’s G20 summit directive two weeks ago, [the Department of] Commerce will issue licenses where there is no threat to US national security”.
At the same time, Ross confirmed that Huawei remains on the entity list, and that “the announcement does not change the scope of items requiring licenses from the commerce department, nor the presumption of denial".
According to him, the easing of the crackdown on Huawei should be more than just the “transfer [of] revenue from US to foreign firms”.
Ross’ announcement comes a few weeks after US President Donald Trump tweeted about his “great meeting” with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Osaka, where Trump agreed to allow products which “will not impact our [US] national security” to be sold to Huawei.
“So if it is not a national security issue, we are allowing them to sell. We are leaving Huawei towards the end. We are going to see what we go with the trade agreement”, Trump added.
Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei hailed the decision as something that was “good for American companies”.
The Chinese tech giant said in a statement that “Huawei is also willing to continue to buy products from American companies”, adding at the same time that they “don’t see much impact on what we are currently doing”.
“We will still focus on doing our own job right”, the statement pointed out.
White House economic aide Larry Kudlow, however, underscored that Trump’s move to ease the US restriction on Huawei is “not a general amnesty” and that Huawei would remain on the so-called Entity’s List, “where there are serious export controls”.
In May, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted Huawei Technologies and around 70 of its affiliates, in a move that prompted several US corporations, such as Google and Microsoft as well as major semiconductor makers, including Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom, to follow suit and sever ties with the Chinese tech titan.
Huawei and Beijing have repeatedly denied US intelligence agencies’ accusations that the company allegedly installs “backdoor” access on its gadgets at the behest of the Chinese government in order to help Beijing steal commercial secrets and collect personal data.
The crackdown on Huawei comes amid attempts by Beijing and Washington to resolve a bilateral trade spat following Trump’s decision in June 2018 to slap 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods in a bid to fix the trade deficit. Since then, the two sides have exchanged several rounds of tariffs.