Commerce Dept. staff told to continue treating Huawei as blacklisted: report

Commerce Dept. staff told to continue treating Huawei as blacklisted: report
© Getty Images

A senior Commerce Department official reportedly told agency staff this week to continue treating Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as blacklisted, after President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE said he would allow U.S. companies to sell products to the company.

Reuters reported that John Sonderman, the deputy director of the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement, wrote in an email to staff on Monday that Huawei remains "on the Entity List” and application should be considered on merit.

"Evaluate the associated license review policy under part 744,” Sonderman wrote, according to Reuters, referring to regulations surrounding the entity list and a "presumption of denial" licensing policy for blacklisted companies.


Huawei was added to the department’s entity list in May, which is seen as a death sentence for included groups as U.S. companies are banned from doing business with them. The Commerce Department subsequently implemented a 90-day extension before Huawei would be added to the list to give U.S. companies time to adjust.

However, Trump seemed to walk back his administration’s crackdown on Huawei over the weekend while attending the Group of 20 summit in Japan, saying he would allow U.S. companies to sell products to Huawei. Trump noted that “we're talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it.”

The president's announcement drew sharp bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers questioning whether the administration had given up a bargaining chip with China amid a long-running trade war. The announcement also left the status of Huawei on the entity list in question. 

Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE, the top White House economic adviser, on Sunday tried to cut down on the confusion around Huawei’s status.

Kudlow told CBS’s "Face the Nation" that “anything to do with national security concerns will not receive a new license from the Commerce Department. I think that’s very important. I think people have to understand that.”

The administration has been working with foreign allies over the past several months urging them to ban Huawei from their networks, with the U.S. arguing that Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government and a danger to U.S. data and intellectual property.

Huawei has been cautious in responding to the announcement, with a Huawei spokesperson telling The Hill earlier this week that “we acknowledge President Trump’s comments related to Huawei over the weekend and have nothing further to add at this time.”