US eases restrictions on China’s Huawei to keep networks, phones operating


The US government on Monday temporarily eased some trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei, a move that sought to minimize disruption for the telecom company’s customers around the world.

The US Commerce Department will allow Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to purchase American-made goods in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.

The company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals that likely will be denied.

The US government said it imposed the restrictions because of Huawei’s involvement in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

The new authorization is intended to give telecommunications operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

‘In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks,’ Ross added.

The license, which is in effect until Aug. 19, suggests changes to Huawei’s supply chain may have immediate, far-reaching and unintended consequences for its customers.

‘The goal seems to be to prevent internet, computer and cell phone systems from crashing,’ said Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official. ‘This is not a capitulation. This is housekeeping.’

Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, declined to comment.

The Commerce Department said it will evaluate whether to extend the exemptions beyond 90 days.

On Thursday, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 68 entities to an export blacklist that makes it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States.

The government tied Huawei’s addition to the ‘entity list’ to a pending case accusing the company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed US goods and services in Iran and move money out of the country via the international banking system. Huawei has pleaded not guilty.