US Commerce Dept. amends Huawei ban to allow for development of 5G standards

Brian Heater
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 31: The logo of China's Huawei Information and Communication Technology Group is visible on the facade of its headquarters on January 31, 2019 in Paris, France. The French government has decided to limit the deployment of telecom equipment belonging to the Chinese group, Huawei. Westerners suspect Huawei of using it’s position in the global market for espionage purposes. In the USA, Huawei is targeted by more than 20 counts. The tense relations between Huawei and the United States finally led to complaint being filed against the Chinese manufacturer, accusing it of technology theft and sanction violations. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is a company founded in 1987, headquartered in Shenzhen, China, which provides solutions in the field of information and communication technologies. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The United States Department of Commerce today issued a change to its sweeping Huawei ban. Proponents of the move note that the change in policy ought not be regarded as a softening on the government’s stance toward the embattled hardware maker, but instead is an attempt to develop more streamlined standards for 5G, along with the company, which has been one of the primary forces in its development 

According to the Department:

This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the Entity List in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations.

The change is designed to allow Huawei and U.S. to both play a role in hashing out the parameters for the next-generation wireless technology. “The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “The Department is committed to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging U.S. industry to fully engage and advocate for U.S. technologies to become international standards.”

The new  Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) rule essentially allows companies to share information about technologies in order to develop a joint standard without requiring an export license. Beyond that, however, the DOC has no stated plans to ease up after placing Huawei on its entities list last year.

The Chinese smartphone maker was included in the blacklist over a litany of ongoing complaints, including its ties to national government, concerns over spying and alleged sanction violations with Iran. The move has had a profound impact on the company, including a severing of its ties to Google, which formed the software backbone of its mobile line through Android and a suit of included apps. Subsequent handsets, including the recently released P40 Pro+, have been shipped without the software on board.