US mixed move on Huawei ban shows its limited hand in dealing with China: analysts


Move reflects Washington’s limited options: analysts

The US on Monday moved to grant another 90-day reprieve for Chinese telecom firm Huawei Technologies, but it also appeared to be increasing pressure on the company by adding more subsidiaries to its Entity List, in a sign of its increasingly limited options in cracking down on the company and China.

The move underscored the delicate situation faced by the Trump administration, which wants to continue its ill-intentioned goal of containing China’s technological and economic rise but is also under intensifying domestic pressure as its actions also inflict pain on US companies and consumers, analysts noted.

The US Department of Commerce announced on Monday (US time) that it will extend the temporary general license, which allows certain US companies to continue supplying Huawei, for another 90 days. The current 90-day reprieve was due to expire on Monday. But in the same statement, the agency also announced that it had added 46 additional subsidiaries of Huawei to its Entity List.

Huawei opposes the US decision to add another 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, which is politically motivated, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The extension of the temporary license does not change the fact that the company has been treated unjustly, and today’s decision won’t have a substantial impact on Huawei’s business either way, the statement said.

“This is typical of the US: tough on words but soft on actions,” Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that the US is facing more difficulties in following up on its tough threats. “They know that they can’t do much about Huawei without hurting themselves.”

In the statement, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross acknowledged the dilemma. “As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” he said.

But the new moves are unlikely to either ease or add new pressure that Huawei hadn’t anticipated, said Jiang Junmu, the chief writer at telecom industry news website c114.com.cn.

Huawei’s sign is seen at an exhibition hall of MWC19 in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

“Huawei has already been forced to the bottom and whatever the US decision is will not change Huawei’s rise,” Jiang told the Global Times, noting that the company has been preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Since being added to the US blacklist, Huawei has mounted a fierce response to US accusations against its products and has moved to release a series of new technologies and products in anticipation of the ban. Most notably, the company has launched its own Harmony operating system to replace Android, which is from Google.

“The US move will only speed up Huawei’s adoption of its Plan B,” said Jiang, who follows Huawei closely.

The US decision will also have a limited impact on the trade negotiations between Chinese and US officials, which are facing a rough road as the US continues to adopt its bullying tactics.

Even as new talks are scheduled for Washington in September, the US administration announced a 10 percent tariff on more than $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. In another sign of its limited control over trade, the US later delayed tariffs on some household goods ahead of the Christmas shopping season to quell rising domestic pressure.

“The US has not changed its tactics but increasingly its hand is forced,” Bai said.

Newspaper headline: US ups pressure on Huawei

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