The Trump administration is further tightening restrictions on China’s Huawei, seeking to starve it of crucial components by cutting off all access to U.S. technology.
The Commerce Department’s new rules, rolled out Monday, will further block Huawei from accessing chip technology. The aim is to stop the Chinese company buying computer chips made using US technology, even if they were not designed specifically for Huawei.
Another 38 Huawei affiliates were also added to the Department of Commerce’s Entity List, a blacklist of firms linked to Huawei.
The following 38 new Huawei affiliates across 21 countries were added to the Entity List because teh U.S. says they present a significant risk of acting on Huawei’s behalf contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.
It also ended an exemption that had allowed some Huawei customers in the U.S. to keep using its equipment and software
The new order broadens those restrictions, requiring companies to seek permission even if they are selling an “off the shelf” general purpose design.
“The new rule makes it clear than any use of American software or American fabrication equipment to produce things through Huawei is banned, and requires a license,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday.
“It’s really a question of closing loopholes to prevent a bad actor from access to U.S. technology, even if they try to do it in a very indirect, very tricky manner.”
“As we have restricted its access to US technology, Huawei and its affiliates have worked through third parties to harness US technology in a manner that undermines US national security and foreign policy interests. This multi-pronged action demonstrates our continuing commitment to impede Huawei’s ability to do so.”
The Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group representing American chipmakers, said in a statement Monday that the rule will cause “significant disruption” to the industry.
Kevin Wolf, who was assistant secretary of commerce for export administration under President Obama said,
The action targets Huawei but could have sweeping reach. Every foreign-made semiconductor of any type anywhere in the world is now subject to U.S. license requirements if a Huawei company is in any way involved, directly or indirectly, in the transaction,
The UK has also been caught in the crossfire of such restrictions, as it caved in to Trump’s demands and banned Huawei equipment being used in the nation’s 5G network – a major U-turn on an earlier decision to allow it a limited stake instead.
Trump publicly took credit for the move:
“We said we love Scotland Yard very much but we’re not going to do business with you because if you use the Huawei system that means they’re spying on you, That would mean they’re spying on us.”
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Huawei has “continuously tried to evade” controls imposed in May.
“The Trump administration sees Huawei for what it is – an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state – and we have taken action accordingly,” he said.
“Today, our government enacted several measures to protect US national security, our citizens’ privacy, and the integrity of our 5G infrastructure from Beijing’s malign influence.”
Attention in the US has recently turned to another Chinese behemoth, TikTok, which President Trump said would be banned unless it is bought from owner ByteDance.
Microsoft and Twitter are among the parties reported to be in talks about a possible takeover of TikTok’s US operations.