US President Donald Trump has delivered a parting shot to Huawei and its US suppliers. Just days before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, the outgoing administration notified several Huawei suppliers that it is revoking certain licenses that let it sell to the Chinese telecom company. The US Commerce Department also intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply to Huawei. Reuters first reported this.
The Trump administration has tried to scuttle Huawei’s operations, which is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, since 2019. In May 2019, the US government added Huawei and 70 of its affiliates to its “Entity List”, following an executive order from President Donald Trump. The US has claimed that both Huawei and ZTE were likely cooperating with Chinese intelligence services, and have close ties to the country’s military.
In an email last week, reviewed by Reuters, the Semiconductor Industry Association said the Commerce Department had issued “intents to deny a significant number of license requests for exports to Huawei and a revocation of at least one previously issued license”. Reuters reported that at least more than one, and up to eight licenses issued to four companies, were revoked. Chip maker Intel was impacted by the action, and Japanese chip maker Kioxia Corp had one license revoked.
The association’s email said the actions spanned a “broad range” of products in the semiconductor industry and asked companies whether they had received notices. The revocations came amidst pending approval for 150 licenses, which were reportedly held up because various U.S. agencies could not agree on whether they should be granted.
Huawei’s challenges increased after the Federal Communications Commission designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats in July 2020. A few months later, FCC chair Ajit Pai said the world needs to work together to secure its 5G communications network and keep “high-risk” vendors out of them. Meanwhile, the US is also helping developing countries reduce their reliance on Chinese telecom equipment.
Huawei faces challenges in UK, India
Huawei has been facing similar problems all over the world. The United Kingdom plans to phase out Huawei from its 5G infrastructure by 2027. UK will prohibit the installation of Huawei equipment in its 5G network by September 2021. Australia was one of the first countries to ban Huawei from its 5G networks in 2018, calling the company a “high-risk” vendor.
Closer home in India, Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani has publicly taken pride in the fact that Reliance Jio does not have a single Chinese component.
While the Indian government had initially permitted both Huawei and ZTE to participate in 5G trials in India, the government reconsidered this decision after border clashes with China. In September 2020, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had said that it had no plans to exclude Chinese companies from 5G infrastructure contracts. Around the same time, in August, Airtel was reported to be applying for 5G trials without Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE.