WASHINGTON — The United States will allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, for an additional 90 days, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday.
The government’s reprieve is intended to give rural telecommunications companies in the United States more time to wean themselves from Huawei, which supplies many of those providers with parts and equipment. Rural telecom firms in the United States have been scrambling to figure out how they will replace Huawei equipment since the Trump administration effectively banned the company from United States communications networks in May and have been lobbying the White House for more time.
“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” Mr. Ross said in a statement.
Huawei has been thrust into the middle of President Trump’s trade fight with China, and the president has given mixed signals about the telecom giant’s fate. After trade talks broke down in May, the Commerce Department added the company to a United States “entity list” that effectively banned the firm from buying American technology and other products without government approval.
But after American companies complained that the ban would be hard to comply with on such short notice, Commerce promptly offered a reprieve until Aug. 19. Mr. Trump had hinted that he could yield further on Huawei in exchange for China’s purchasing more American farm products, but no such agreement has emerged.
In a sign that the administration is not completely easing pressure on Huawei, the Commerce Department said that it was also adding 46 affiliates of Huawei to the entity list.
In a terse statement issued on Monday, Huawei called the addition of the affiliates “politically motivated” and unrelated to national security and said that it was being treated “unjustly.”
“These actions violate the basic principles of free market competition,” Huawei said in the statement. “Attempts to suppress Huawei’s business won’t help the United States achieve technological leadership.”
Mr. Trump has called the company a national security threat, and the United States has concerns that Huawei could be used to help the Chinese government’s espionage efforts and to disrupt American telecommunications infrastructure in the event of a conflict.
“Huawei is a company we may not do business with at all,” Mr. Trump said on Sunday.
The temporary relief for Huawei comes as trade negotiations between the United States and China remain at an impasse.
Mr. Trump agreed last week to delay some additional tariffs on toys and electronics until December, but the United States is still expected to slap levies on more Chinese imports on Sept. 1. Earlier this month it labeled China a currency manipulator for the first time since 1994. China is expected to unveil plans to retaliate.
Despite the escalating tension, Mr. Trump said that he and President Xi Jinping of China were planning to speak and that the two countries would continue to have trade talks.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been urging Mr. Trump to keep his hard line on Huawei. Lifting the ban outright would probably be met with strong bipartisan disapproval.
Speaking on the Fox Business Network on Monday, Mr. Ross said that the administration would offer another extension through mid-November.
The Trump administration has warned that Huawei poses a national security threat, and American officials have been warning allies for months that the United States will stop sharing intelligence if they use Huawei and other Chinese technology to build the core of their fifth-generation, or 5G, networks.
SOURCE : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/us/politics/huawei-trump.html