Huawei shrugs off latest US reprieve

Chinese tech giant dismisses the latest extension of the US Temporary General Licence and maintains that the US government is harming its own interests in banning it

Huawei has played down the renewed extension of the US government’s Temporary General Licence, enabling it to continue doing business with US suppliers and partners for a further 90-day period, saying it will not have a substantial impact on the company’s business, and does not change the fact that it is being treated unfairly.

The extension was issued on 18 November by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), authorising specific, limited engagements in transactions involving the export, re-export and transfer of items to Huawei and several of its non-US affiliates.

“The Temporary General Licence extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the US who would otherwise be left in the dark,” said secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross.

“The department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security.”

A Huawei spokesperson said: “We have long held that the decision by the US Department of Commerce to add Huawei to the Entity List has caused more harm to the US than to Huawei.

“This has done significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business and has already disrupted collaboration and undermined the mutual trust on which the global supply chain depends. We call on the US government to put an end to this unjust treatment and remove Huawei from the Entity List.”

The Temporary General Licence was first issued in May 2019 and was intended as a temporary stay to help US telecoms and network providers that use Huawei’s equipment to make alternative arrangements ahead of a total ban on its activities in the US.

In August 2019, Ross issued a 90-day extension, saying: “Some of the rural companies are dependent on Huawei, so we’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off.”

Huawei has long maintained it is innocent of any alleged wrongdoing and has repeatedly insisted that it is well-placed to weather any storm.

In recent remarks made at an event in Paris, William Xu, one of its directors, said: “If US companies can continue to supply Huawei with products and components, then we will still welcome them. If this is not possible, we will still maintain our robust business growth.

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“In terms of 5G, we do not rely on any US tech and components and are still the leading vendor. Against these circumstances, we welcome collaboration with suppliers from around the world.”

In the UK, the decision on whether or not to exclude Huawei from the 5G mobile networks currently being deployed was once again kicked further down the road earlier in November because of the upcoming General Election.

The decision was supposed to have been made during the summer when the government published its Telecoms supply chain review, but this was delayed because of the uncertainty created by the US government.

Meanwhile, the UK’s 5G roll-out continues apace with Huawei equipment being deployed extensively, which operators have said will cause a headache should Westminster follow Washington’s lead.

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