Huawei logo with the US flag

US halts export licences to China’s Huawei

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The Biden administration has stopped approving licences for US companies to export most items to China's Huawei, the Financial Times has reported.

Washington is moving towards a total ban on the sale of US technology to Huawei, as the country stops approving export licences to the Chinese technology giant, according to reports.

Several people familiar with discussions inside the administration have told the Financial Times the commerce department had notified some companies that it would no longer grant licences to any group exporting American technology to Huawei. 

The US has restricted China’s access to semiconductor technology since at least 2019 when the Trump administration banned Huawei from buying vital US technology, citing national security concerns. 

Despite the change in administration, the country has continued to impose strict export controls on the Chinese electronic maker. Both Huawei and the Chinese government have continued to deny any spying accusations. 

However, officials in the US Department of Commerce have granted licences for some American firms to sell certain goods and technologies to Huawei. In 2020, Qualcomm received permission to sell 4G smartphone chips to Huawei.

Nonetheless, the country seems to be moving towards imposing a total ban on the sale of American technology to the Chinese telecom equipment giant.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said officials "continually assess our policies and regulations" but do not comment on talks with specific companies. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that China opposes the United States abusing an overly broad notion of national security to suppress Chinese firms unreasonably.

The move "goes against the principles of the market economy and rules of international trade and finance, hurts the confidence the international community has in the US business environment, and is blatant technological hegemony", he said during a press conference in Beijing. 

In October, US under secretary of commerce for industry and security Alan Estevez said "the threat environment is always changing".

"We are appropriately doing everything in our power to protect our national security and prevent sensitive technologies with military applications from being acquired by the People's Republic of China's military, intelligence, and security services," he added.

Last week, the US reached a deal with Japan and the Netherlands to restrict companies in those countries from exporting certain chipmaking equipment to China.

In August 2022, the US further prohibited the export of four technologies tied to semiconductor manufacturing, citing how they were “vital to national security” and signed a 'historic' bill aimed at boosting the domestic production of semiconductors.

Shortly after the bill’s passing, US chipmaker Nvidia revealed it had been told by the US Department of Commerce to halt exports of some of its artificial intelligence technology to China, due to a potential risk of the products being used by, or diverted to, a “military end-user”.

Last year, E&T analysed the ramifications for the world’s largest chipmaker and many other leading semiconductor stocks as they suffered from the first major reaction to new restrictions on US exports to China.

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