A defiant Huawei gets a reprieve as US, Google back down from trade restrictions

Kip Kniskern

It has not been a good couple of days for Chinese tech company Huawei. The US Government imposed trade restrictions on Huawei late last week, placing them on an “Entity List” of companies said to be “engaged in activities that threaten the national security or the foreign policy interests of the U.S.” Google followed suit and joined other US companies in saying they would cut ties with the Chinese firm to comply with the Entity List restrictions.

Things have calmed down a bit today, however, as the US has granted Huawei a 90 day temporary license to the company, allowing it to keep existing networks online and continue supporting hardware. According to CNBC, Google has backed down a bit too, saying that they would continue to work with Huawei while the temporary reprieve is in place. So far Microsoft has stayed out of the fray, although Huawei Windows 10 machines may become embroiled in the controversy soon, too.

The US Government’s contention is that Huawei has been working a bit too closely with the Chinese government. Some have accused the company of providing back doors, especially for new 5G mobile networking hardware, that would allow for Chinese spying. However, the Trump Administration is also currently embroiled in a trade and tariff war with China, and Huawei may also be a pawn in a bigger battle.

For its part, Huawei came out firing yesterday, according to a report on Yahoo News, with its founder Ren Zhengfei saying that the US Government “underestimates our strength,” and that  “Huawei’s 5G will absolutely not be affected. In terms of 5G technologies, others won’t be able to catch up with Huawei in two or three years.” Huawei is apparently working on its own mobile operating system, one that could diminish the need to rely on Google, and the company’s founder also said that they can produce their own alternatives to chips they are currently buying from the US, ones affected by the Entity List restrictions.

Expect the back and forth to continue as Huawei attempts to retain its strong position in the market and the US Government tries to send strong signals both to China, and to US companies like Google who do business in Asia.