The Biden administration, as of January 31, 2023, has blocked the renewal of export licenses to U.S. companies selling essential components to China’s largest global technology company, Huawei. While the Department of Commerce has not yet released a formal decision regarding a total ban on the exports of products to Huawei, multiple sources within the administration have confirmed this new development.
Huawei, which specializes in networking equipment and smartphones, has been on the U.S. Commerce Department’s entity list of companies subject to licensing requirements since 2019, allowing the company only the ability to purchase less advanced components from the U.S. deemed not to be a security risk. The blocking of export license renewals for Huawei is the latest effort by the Biden administration to curb the flow of critical technology to a company which “helps China engage in espionage.” In October 2022, the Commerce Department imposed restrictions on supplying semiconductors and chipmaking equipment to Chinese entities. These newest restrictions will likely cut off Huawei’s access to advanced technology like processor chips and other technology from large U.S. companies.
The White House and Commerce Department have so far declined to comment about specific deliberations regarding Huawei. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves, recently stated on January 31, 2023 that one of the Administration’s main objectives is to protect the U.S.’s “tech advantage and national security from malign actors.”
The new halt on licenses for Huawei follows announcements earlier this month that the House Foreign Affairs Committee would conduct a 90-day review of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry Security. Additionally, the tightening of export controls on Huawei comes just days after Japan and the Netherlands agreed to a deal with the U.S. to restrict China’s access to materials used to make advanced computer chips. National security and foreign policy experts believe that Commerce may soon take the additional step to revoke all previous licenses granted for exports to Huawei. A foreign ministry spokeswoman for China, Mao Ning Mao, said Beijing would “defend the legitimate rights” of its companies.
U.S. companies should ensure that they are adhering to all Commerce Department licensing requirements for exports of goods and technology. A Commerce official has been quoted saying, “[the Department officials] continually assess our policies and regulations” when speaking on the matter. More restrictions are to be expected in the coming months. Buchanan’s team of national security attorneys are prepared to offer guidance and assistance.