When Joe Biden entered the White House, some Huawei fans had hoped that his administration might change the sanctions against the Chinese manufacturer, given that these were imposed by the previous administration of Donald Trump.
However, despite this change in administration, the rules for US sanctions against Huawei have remained the same, preventing the Chinese company from pre-installing Google (GMS) applications and services on its smartphones, or from sourcing 5G chips. (Huawei’s latest flagship is content with 4G). And for the moment, everything suggests that this situation will not change.
US eases sanctions on Huawei, but to serve its interests
A few days ago, Washington decided to modify its rules in order to reduce (a little) these sanctions. As reported in a Bloomberg article, the Bureau of Industry and Security (an agency responsible for national security and advanced technology issues within the Department of Commerce) has decided to update its rules regarding sanctions against Huawei.
As a reminder, as part of these sanctions, American companies, as well as non-American companies, but using American technologies (such as TSMC for chips), must apply for a permit issued by the United States before being able to trade. with Huawei and other companies included in the Entity List (the list of sanctioned entities). Thus, Washington authorizes, for example, the marketing of 4G chips to Huawei (by Qualcomm), but not that of 5G chips.
The new rules, announced a few days ago, allow US companies to publish certain technologies or software without seeking permits, when these companies deliberate to set new standards with entities from other countries. The idea is not to make a gesture of appeasement, but rather to facilitate the participation of American companies in the creation of standards in new technologies.
Indeed, while the sanctions nearly destroyed Huawei’s smartphone division, they also made it more difficult for US organizations to participate in setting the standards (since they weren’t sure whether to apply for a permit to work with Huawei in creating standards). However, in this field, the USA wishes to maintain a position of leadership.
“U.S. stakeholders must be fully engaged in international standards organizations, especially where the essential, but sometimes invisible standards they establish have significant national security implications as well as trade implications.”said Commerce Undersecretary for Industry and Security Alan Estevez. “Today’s rule provides much-needed clarity to American industry and other organizations that will allow the United States to continue to lead these critical bodies.” »
Very specific rules
As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D. Rozman Kendler explains, these new rules allow U.S. organizations to fully participate in and even lead the creation of standards in new technologies, while continuing to prevent transfers. of technology that Washington considers a threat to national security.
A government statement explains that for the publication of new technologies to be allowed without requiring a permit, this publication must be done as part of a standard-setting activity. And it is also essential that the standard is then made public. This requirement, according to the US government, is intended to prevent the transfer of proprietary technologies.