U.S. Tightens Restrictions On Huawei’s Access To Chip Technologies

Anil Prabha

August 25, 2020

The Trump administration has announced further tightening of restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co. This latest measure is aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Commerce Department expanded restrictions to prevent the company from obtaining semiconductors without a special license. This will cover chips made by foreign firms that have also been developed or produced with U.S. software or technology.

Trump’s administration has also added 38 Huawei affliates in 21 countries to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist, the sources said, raising the total to 152 affliates, according to the Reuters report.

Apparently, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business that the restrictions on Huawei-designed chips imposed on led the company to take evasive measures and they were going through third parties. Ross believes the new rule will make it clear that any use of American software or American fabrication equipment is banned, and any requirement to use it will require a license.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said in a recent tweet that the U.S. government is serious about its intentions to limit Huawei’s influence in the greater scheme of things.

The bigger picture is that U.S. – China relations is at their worst in decades, and the American government is pushing governments around the world to push out Huawei from their technology infrastructures.

At the core of the issue, is the accusation that Huawei spies on governments and countries as a whole. Huawei has always consistently denied that it spies for China.

The new actions by the Commerce department prevents Huawei’s attempts to circumvent U.S. export controls. These measures are effective immediately.

It “makes clear that we’re covering off-the-shelf designs that Huawei may be seeking to purchase from a third-party design house,” one Commerce Department official told Reuters.

The Semiconductor Industry Association, is not exactly over the moon with the latest developments. Speaking to Reuters, “these broad restrictions on commercial chip sales will bring significant disruption to the U.S. semiconductor industry…we are surprised and concerned by the administration’s sudden shift from its prior support of a more narrow approach intended to achieve stated national security goals while limiting harm to U.S. companies.”

According to the New York Times, the rules that were set in May, specifically barred companies from supplying items to Huawei that were produced to its design specifications, which allowed Huawei to continue buying off-the-shelf semi conductor products that were not customized to its needs.

As cited in the NYT article, Douglas B. Fuller, a professor at City University of Hong Kong who studies the technology industry in East Asia, believed that the language was not broad enough in the earlier measures, and therefore, the latest move by the Commerce Department attempts “to cover all the bases”.

The publication went on to add that an anonymous Commerce Department official did not offer specific examples of Huawei’s actions in circumventing the rules, but it seems the latest changes were the result of conversations with third parties about the initial rules.

Sources: Reuters and The New York Times.

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About the author
Anil Prabha

Editor In Chief

Anil started his career in journalism all the way back in 2003. After traversing the sphere of editorial, corporate communications and advertising, he has now come full circle and is back in the world of journalism. He believes in the power of the written word, and its ability to enthrall, delight and inform the reader.

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