The Pentagon, which has previously opposed tighter U.S. restrictions on China, may be changing its tune. U.S. political news site Politico quoted sources as saying on the 12th that the U.S. Department of Defense has changed its position and agreed to tighten supply restrictions on Huawei in China and further “block” Huawei.
(Original title: U.S. media says Pentagon agrees to tighten restrictions on Huawei: U.S. industry insiders: it will hurt U.S. corporate innovation capabilities)
But semiconductor industry sources argue that the u.S. sale to Huawei does not pose a national security risk and that export restrictions could hurt U.S. companies’ ability to innovate.
Politico said the Commerce Department had planned to issue a rule last month to further reduce U.S. companies’ supply to China, but the Department of Defense and Engineering objected, arguing that it would not only make it difficult for U.S. semiconductor companies to maintain their industry leadership, but that their revenues would also fall as a result. Department of Defense and Engineering officials believe that further restrictions on U.S. sales to Huawei could hamper investment in chipsets that are critical to the next generation of fighter jets and other weapons. The U.S. Department of Commerce withdrew the proposal after objections from the Defense Department.
But U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary John Rhodes, who is in charge of policy development, has reversed the agency’s recommendations to support a stronger “blocking” of Huawei, according to U.S. media reports. Reuters also quoted people familiar with the matter on the 12th confirmed that the U.S. Department of Defense may change its position on China, and said the reversal will make it more difficult for U.S. companies to circumvent the effective ban on exports to China. Last May, Mr. Trump announced that he would blacklist Huawei and restrict trade between U.S. companies and Huawei. Politico said U.S. semiconductor companies have been looking for ways to circumvent the ban, including by providing products to Huawei through subsidiaries or partners abroad.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Michael Ross recently called on Defense Secretary Michael Espanyor to discuss the issue with Huawei and meet next week, Reuters said. In addition, cabinet-level officials, including Ross, Espeand and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, are expected to meet at a higher level on February 28th to discuss further restrictions on technology exports to China and Huawei. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that it is “constantly reviewing and updating export controls to meet the challenges of accelerating technology communication and innovation.”
However, the U.S. has faced opposition from the U.S. semiconductor industry over Huawei’s growing restrictions. Representatives of U.S. chip companies said in a closed-door meeting with U.S. officials that semiconductors and components sold to Huawei for smartphones could be purchased from competitors in other countries and did not pose a national security risk, Politico reported. Export restrictions on commercial products and technologies undermine the ability of U.S. companies to innovate further.
U.S. officials’ crackdown on China has been based on so-called “national security” reasons. U.S. officials have claimed that Huawei can secretly access mobile networks around the world through a “back door” designed for law enforcement, and that Huawei has had the secret capability for more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
U.S. officials claim that communications equipment manufacturers have reserved so-called “legitimate listening interfaces” for licensees such as law enforcement agencies or telecommunications operators when providing hardware devices such as base stations and converters, and that Huawei-made devices secretly retain the manufacturer’s ability to access its network through backdoor interfaces without the telco’s knowledge.
In response to this, Huawei issued a statement on the 13th, said that the U.S. accusations of the situation is impossible, “the U.S. accusations against Huawei’s secret information, but the blind way, it does not conform to any recognized logic in the field of cyber security.” Huawei did not, and will not, secretly invade the telecommunications network in the future, and we do not have the capability. Huawei says it does not have what U.S. government officials call listening capabilities, but that the U.S. itself has long been spying on telecommunications networks, “and, as Snowden revealed, the U.S. has been able to hack into telecommunications networks around the world and spy on communications from other countries.” Huawei said, “It is outrageous that the U.S. government has spared no effort to discredit Huawei by using cybersecurity issues to smear huawei.” If the U.S. does find that Huawei is in violation of the law, we are serious about asking the U.S. to disclose the evidence, rather than using the media to spread rumors. “
According to Agence France-Presse reported on the 13th, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview on the 13th, France is not discriminatory against China, Huawei will not be excluded from the country’s 5G network equipment suppliers, but may be limited.