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Washington halts licences for US companies to export to Huawei

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The Biden administration has stopped offering U.S. companies export licenses to Huawei as it moves to ban all sales of U.S. technology to Chinese telecom giants.

The Commerce Department has notified some companies that it will not license groups that want to export U.S. technology to the United States, according to people familiar with the discussions within the administration. Huawei.

The move marks the latest juncture in Washington’s campaign to rein in Shenzhen-based tech companies that US security officials believe are helping China engage in espionage. I’m here. Huawei has denied any involvement in espionage.

Trump administration in 2019 imposed severe restrictions About exporting US technology to Huawei by adding the group to a blacklist called the “entity list”. The move was part of Washington’s strategy to crack down on Chinese companies it believes pose a risk to US national security.

However, the Commerce Department continued to grant export licenses to some companies, such as Qualcomm and Intel, to provide Huawei with technologies not related to high-speed 5G communications networks.

Over the past two years, President Joe Biden has taken an even tougher stance on China, especially in the area of ​​cutting-edge technology. he in october imposed sweeping restrictions On providing advanced semiconductor and chip manufacturing equipment to groups in China.

Alan Estevez, director of the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, said: China-related policies To determine the steps the regime should take to make it more difficult for the Chinese military to develop weapons using U.S. technology.

Martijn Rasser, a technical expert at think tank CNAS, said the latest move was a “really important move.”

“The Commerce Department’s actions are driven in part by the fact that Huawei as a company is a very different animal than it was four years ago when it was focused on 5G,” said former CIA officer Lasser. rice field. Areas such as submarine cables and cloud computing.

Washington’s move comes at a time when Huawei’s business has stabilized. Eric Xu, the company’s rotating chairman, said in December that 2023 would be the first year Huawei would return to “business as usual.” After a sharp decline in 2021, revenue in 2022 was flat at RMB 636.9 billion ($94 billion), according to the company.

The company has ensured survival with a shift to enterprise and government business, especially in China, and a growing cloud business. The fact that the US still allowed exports to Huawei also helped avoid a complete collapse. Huawei is believed to be backing a project in China aimed at building an import-independent semiconductor supply chain, and has begun targeting Washington as well.

Industry insiders said it was too early to assess the impact of the latest measures on Huawei. “An indefinite total suspension would of course be disastrous for Huawei, but without it the outcome could be very different,” said a legal expert involved in licensing applications.

An executive at a chip design firm that has worked with Huawei said changes would come when export licenses expire. “There are no published details about which licenses were granted and when, making it difficult to predict,” he added.

Secretary of State Antony Brinken is preparing to visit China next week, making him the first member of the Biden Cabinet to visit.

The United States is also stepping up efforts with its allies to slow China’s move to develop cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons modeling and semiconductors used to develop hypersonic weapons.

Washington last week made an agreement with Japan and the Netherlands Restricting companies in these countries from exporting certain chip manufacturing equipment to China. The U.S. in October imposed unilateral restrictions barring exports of semiconductor manufacturing tools by U.S. companies.

Estevez hinted last year that the U.S. is looking to many other areas. Asked about reports that the administration is considering limiting quantum and biotechnology, he told CNAS his think tank:

No formal decision has yet been made on whether to implement a complete ban on exports of chips using US technology to China.

The Commerce Department declined to comment, but said the agency, along with other government agencies, “continues to evaluate policies and regulations and communicates regularly with external stakeholders.”

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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