- Commerce Department extends temporary general licence until November, but adds more Huawei affiliates to ban
- Reprieve announced same day previous extension due to expire
The US government on Monday gave China's Huawei Technologies a 90-day extension to the reprieve that lets the company continue to do business with American companies, a move that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he made to prevent disruption at some rural US telecom networks.
That reprieve was to have expired on Monday, but is now extended until November 19.
Earlier this year, Huawei was included on the Commerce Department's "Entity List", which prevents the company from buying American-made technology, owing to concerns that Huawei's operations constituted a threat to national security. The move has been seen as an escalation of the US-China trade war that has been intensifying for more than a year.
"As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei's products, we recognise that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption," Ross said in a Commerce Department announcement.
"Simultaneously, we are constantly working at the department to ensure that any exports to Huawei and its affiliates do not violate the terms of the Entity Listing or Temporary General Licence", he said, referring to the mechanism that allows US companies to continue buying and selling with Huawei despite the inclusion of the company and many of its affiliates on the list.
Along with the three-month reprieve, the second since Huawei was put on the blacklist in May, the Commerce Department said that 46 more affiliates of Huawei were added to the list, raising the total number to more than 100.
US security concerns around Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment vendor, prompted Washington to start moving against Huawei last year in the form of a new law that prohibits the federal government and its contractors from doing business with Huawei and several other Chinese companies.
That law had strong bipartisan support in Washington against a backdrop of warnings from US cybersecurity experts that Huawei equipment in the country's telecom networks left them vulnerable to disruption through hacks originating in China.
"Failure to extend (the Temporary General Licence) would cause massive disruption to rural broadband in the US, not to mention the slew of security issues from not being able to get software updates," said Samm Sacks, cybersecurity policy and China digital economy fellow with Washington-based think tank New America.
"But this near-term stability may be an illusion," Sacks said. "The extension just buys the administration more time on what may be an impossible task. There are some that want to dismantle Huawei altogether. Others wants to use it as leverage in a trade deal. You can't have it both ways."
In addition to allowing further business transactions between Huawei and US companies, the latest 90-day extension also lets Huawei provide software updates to handsets it sells in America.
However, the company remains banned from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without a special Commerce Department licence.
Ross said in an interview on July 24 that "we will deal with (the licence applications) very promptly".
"There are 50-some-odd applications from 35 companies that have been received, and within the next couple of weeks we expect to have verdicts", Ross said at the time.
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