White House Aims to Cut Huawei Off From Tech Suppliers

The logo of a Huawei retail shop is seen through a handrail inside a commercial office building in Beijing in March 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Trump administration has ramped up efforts blocking semiconductor sales to Huawei after banning the export of U.S. technology to the Chinese tech giant last year. 

The new rule issued by the Department of Commerce on Friday extends the ban to include Huawei purchasing semiconductors made abroad with U.S. software and equipment.

The major manufacturer of smartphones and telecommunication network equipment has repeatedly denied accusations from the Trump administration that its products could be easily tapped by the Chinese Communist Party, compromising U.S. national security. 

The company is also facing federal prosecution in the Eastern District of New York over claims it is at the center of a conspiracy to steal trade secrets and do business with Iran and North Korea, both of which are under global sanctions. 

The stricter ban is aimed at cutting off Huawei’s stepped-up efforts to undermine the U.S. export controls, the Department of Commerce stated in a press release Friday. 

“However, that effort is still dependent on U.S. technologies,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated. “This is not how a responsible global corporate citizen behaves. We must amend our rules exploited by Huawei and HiSilicon and prevent U.S. technologies from enabling malign activities contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

The move comes the same day Ross praised a new Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing facility in Arizona as evidence that the U.S. is tapering down its dependence on Chinese imports. 

The secretary claimed that the new factory will bring on 1,600 employees and produce cutting edge computer chips 2 nanometers smaller than the leading semiconductor technology.

“This will be a real blockbuster of a chip,” Ross said in an interview with Fox Business.

“Arizona, since it already has Intel, already has ON Semiconductor, will now have a very powerful technology complex that we hope will be very vertically integrated. And that should facilitate even more activity,” the secretary added. “We’re building a real semiconductor ecotech.” 

Ross claimed that the new rule and the announcement that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company would be opening up shop in Arizona was unrelated and “just happened to come out on the same day.”

The secretary explained that the Department of Commerce will give telecommunication companies until August to demonstrate how they plan to “wean themselves” off Huawei equipment. 

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