Monday, 01 July 2019 04:58

US position on Huawei ban unclear after Trump comments Featured

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US position on Huawei ban unclear after Trump comments Image by Lisette Brodey from Pixabay

ANALYSIS Not for the first time, people around the world are struggling to understand one of US President Donald Trump's pronouncements, this one being about the Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies.

Trump made one of his characteristic off-hand comments after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit in Osaka on the weekend, saying: “US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei. We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it.”

Whether that means a complete removal of the company from the so-called Entity List — inclusion means that a company has to seek government permission in order to buy products from US firms — or not is still to be clarified.

Huawei was placed on the Entity List on 16 May. Five days later, the US Commerce Department said the ban would be eased for 90 days, so that existing networks and handsets which had already been sold by the Chinese firm would continue to receive software updates.

More recently, it has emerged that a number of processor makers, Intel among them, have got around the ban by selling Huawei goods made in their external outlets.

The US also imposed a ban on the use of products from Huawei and its fellow Chinese vendor ZTE Corporation on 16 May. This means the secretary of commerce has the authority to ban transactions deemed to include possible risk to US national security.

Trump did a complete reversal on ZTE last year, after the company was found to have breached US domestic sanctions on selling products to Iran and North Korea and banned from doing business in the US for seven years.

He justified this decision by saying it reflected the bigger trade deal that was being negotiated with China and his personal relationship with Xi.

More than once, Trump has hinted that Huawei could be used as a bargaining chip in the wider US-China trade deal.

Apart from the US, Australia has banned Huawei from participating in the building of 5G networks, while New Zealand has turned down one effort for a joint build by the telco Spark and Japan is reported to have also shunned Huawei. The position in other countries is still unclear.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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