By Associated Press
The Trump administration’s decision to restrict all U.S. technology sales to Chinese telecommunications powerhouse Huawei /zigman2/quotes/208254801/delayed CN:002502 -3.29% for national security reasons doesn’t just up the ante in the China trade war.
It’s also bound to hurt U.S. suppliers and accelerate Beijing’s drive toward greater technological independence.
The White House issued an executive order Wednesday apparently aimed at banning Huawei’s equipment from U.S. telecom networks and information infrastructure. It then announced a more potent and immediate sanction that subjects the Chinese company to strict export controls.
The order took effect Thursday and requires U.S. government approval for all purchases of U.S. microchips, software and other components globally by Huawei and 68 affiliated businesses. Huawei says that amounted to $11 billion in goods last year.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the sanctions are “not really a part of the trade negotiation” but added that they could be reversed should Huawei no longer be deemed “a significant danger” to U.S. national security.
The U.S. government has long insisted that equipment from suppliers including Huawei poses an espionage threat because it is legally beholden to China’s ruling party. But U.S. officials have presented no evidence of any Huawei equipment serving as intentional conduits for espionage by Beijing.
About a third of Huawei’s suppliers are American including chip makers Broadcom, Qualcomm and Intel. Ironically, many of the computer chips, memory and other components it gets from U.S. companies are made in China, said Roger Entner, founder of telecom research firm Recon Analytics.
The company’s flagship smartphone, the Mate 20 Pro , includes chips made by Skyworks Solutions Inc. and a wireless receiver made by Integrated Device Technologies, both U.S. companies.
Neither company responded immediately to requests for comment. A Qualcomm spokeswoman said the company had no comment.
Kevin Wolf, who was assistant secretary of commerce for export administration under President Barack Obama, described the impact of the U.S. sanctions as “massive.”
He said they would have “ripple effects through the entire global telecommunications network.” If Huawei “can’t get the widget or the part or the software update to keep functioning, then those systems go down,” said Wolf, a partner at the Washington law firm Akin Gump.
Huawei issued a statement Thursday calling the move “in no one’s interest.”
“It will do significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business, affect tens of thousands of American jobs, and disrupt the current collaboration and mutual trust that exist on the global supply chain,” the company said.
Huawei is already the biggest global supplier of networking equipment, and Entner said it is poised to overtake Samsung as the No. 1 smartphone manufacturer. He said Huawei is now apt to move toward making all components domestically. China already has a policy seeking technological independence by 2025 and Entner said Huawei has its own mobile processors and chips.
The restrictions would also bar Google from licensing value-added components and services of its Android operating system, which Google gives away for free to use on Huawei and other smartphones.