Trump officials extend deadline to allow companies to work with Huawei

Trump officials extend deadline to allow companies to work with Huawei
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The Commerce Department on Monday announced that the temporary license allowing U.S. companies to do business with Chinese telecommunications group Huawei had been extended by 90 days.

It marked the third time the agency has extended the deadline since Huawei was added to the Commerce Department’s “entity list” in May, citing national security concerns. American companies are banned from doing business with companies on the list, effectively blacklisting groups included.

The extended license is narrow in scope, only authorizing “specific, limited engagements in transactions involving the export, reexport, and transfer of items” to Huawei and its non-U.S. affiliate companies.

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“The Temporary General License extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossSpace race is on: US can't afford congressional inaction in this critical economic sector Trump escalates fight over tax on tech giants The Hill's Morning Report - Intel panel readies to hand off impeachment baton MORE said in a statement. “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.”

The Trump administration has moved to crack down on Huawei, which the intelligence community sees as a threat. But the efforts to target Huawei have also caused worry in the tech industry where many companies have important business dealings with Huawei.

Officials previously extended the license after concerns about the effect on rural broadband carriers who rely on Huawei equipment, which is often a cheaper alternative to other companies. 

The latest extension also comes as the U.S. and China continue negotiations on a new trade deal, with the pending ban on Huawei adding to the tensions. 

Concerns around Huawei mostly stem from a 2017 Chinese intelligence law, which requires Chinese citizens and companies to “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public.”

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An official for Huawei declined to comment on this story. 

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon Bipartisan senators call on FERC to protect against Huawei threats Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware MORE (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, put the potential threats in focus while speaking at a New York University cybersecurity event on Monday.

“When you have to buy from soup to nuts a single kit approach on next generation baseline telecom equipment, and at any point in time, the Communist Party can say, ‘the next update put malware in,’ that is a long-term national security threat,” Warner said. 

At least one other agency is moving ahead with measures targeting Huawei. The license was extended the day before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on proposals that would limit Huawei’s involvement in the U.S. telecom industry.

The proposals, which were announced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last month, would ban U.S. telecom companies from using money in the FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from companies deemed national security threats, and would also classify both Huawei and Chinese group ZTE as threats. 

A second proposal calls for an assessment for how much it would cost to rip out and replace all Huawei equipment currently used by U.S. telecom groups, and the establishment of a “reimbursement program” to help companies implement the changes. 

The proposals look likely to be approved, with Pai and other commissioners publicly expressing support. 

Pai said in a statement last month that “When it comes to 5G and America’s security, we can’t afford to take a risk and hope for the best. We need to make sure our networks won’t harm our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values.”

Congress has also taken action to address perceived threats involving Huawei, introducing multiple bills designed to protect the communications supply chain and limit the company’s involvement. 

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes language that would prohibit the Commerce Department from removing Huawei from the entity list until the Commerce secretary can affirm to Congress that Huawei does not pose a threat to national security and that the country has not stolen intellectual property in a five-year period. 

The bill has been passed by both the House and Senate, and negotiators from both chambers are hashing out a final version. However, this process is being hindered by the impeachment inquiry in the House. 

There is also strong bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill that Huawei poses a threat. After President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE announced at the Group of 20 summit in Japan earlier this year that U.S. companies would still be able to do business with Huawei in cases that did not affect national security, members of Congress strongly pushed back.

“Huawei is one of few potent levers we have to make China play fair on trade," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement in July. "If President Trump backs off, as it appears he is doing, it will dramatically undercut our ability to change China’s unfair trade practices.”