China
March 11, 2020

Huawei License Extended as U.S. Seeks Comment on Potential Future Export Controls

By Samuel Rubenfeld

Photo: Huawei Press Center

The U.S. Commerce Department late Tuesday extended its temporary license authorizing certain exports to Chinese networking communications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as the department seeks public comment on the need for potential future extensions.

The latest extension authorizes limited U.S. exports to Huawei through May 15, the Commerce Department said. It comes a month after U.S. prosecutors announced a superseding indictment against Huawei and several affiliates that deepened allegations of the company’s alleged conduct in sanctioned countries, including Iran and North Korea. Huawei and its subsidiaries pleaded not guilty last week, according to the court docket.

Huawei and dozens of its affiliates were added in May 2019 to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Entity List. More were added months later. Inclusion on the list limits a company’s access to U.S.-origin technology, though BIS has issued licenses allowing certain exports, principally concerning network service in remote U.S. areas. 

BIS requested public comments to evaluate the need to extend the license, whether any other changes may be warranted and to identify any alternative authorization that could more effectively address the authorized exports, according to the Commerce Department.

The U.S. has pursued a campaign in recent years urging allies to block Huawei equipment as they roll out 5G network infrastructure, though some countries, including the U.K., have rejected U.S. efforts. U.S. officials are reviewing what military and intelligence assets need to be removed from the U.K. if Huawei builds out the British network, Bloomberg reported last week.

The license extension also follows a report by Reuters, citing internal company records not mentioned in the U.S. criminal case, that show Huawei was directly involved in sending computer servers, switches and other equipment to one of Iran’s largest telecommunications carriers. 

Another Chinese company, Panda International Information Technology Co., which is not named in the U.S. indictment, was also involved in acquiring hardware and software for the project, Reuters reported. Huawei regularly used the state-owned Panda International to ship equipment to customers in Iran and Syria, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. 

Panda International was added in 2014 to the Entity List for attempting to supply items to the Chinese military or to export items to destinations sanctioned by the U.S., according to a BIS notice. The company, which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese government, has a “deep history” with Huawei, according to its website. Huawei declined to comment and Panda International did not respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.