The Trump administration took one last parting shot at China, informing Chinese technology company Huawei that the U.S. was revoking the licenses of companies to sell technology to the firm many analysts see as a national security threat.
The Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply the telecommunications firm, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The action – likely the last against Huawei Technologies under Republican President Donald Trump – is the latest in a long-running effort to weaken the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, which Washington sees as a national security threat.
In an email provided to Reuters, representatives from the Semiconductor Industry Association said that the Commerce Department issued “intents to deny a significant number of license requests for exports to Huawei and a revocation of at least one previously issued license.” In total, a source said eight licenses to sell to the Chinese company from four American companies.
The Trump administration in 2019 put Huawei on a Commerce Department “entity list,” which restricted suppliers from selling U.S. technology to the firm. But some applications to sell to the company were still being approved, with technologies containing 5G capability the most likely applications to be denied.
But one Commerce Department official, Corey Stewart, pushed for the department to take a harder line on China in the waning days of the Trump administration:
The U.S. action came after pressure from a recent Trump appointee in the Commerce Department, Corey Stewart, who wanted to push through hardline China policies after being hired for a two-month stint in the agency at the end of the administration.
Trump has targeted Huawei in other ways. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada in December 2018, on a U.S. warrant. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and the company itself were indicted for misleading banks about its business in Iran.
According to the Department of Justice, over 80% of cases involving economic espionage involve China, with the communist regime stealing U.S. intellectual property American companies and reusing it at a price that undercuts competitors.
Trump has made protecting American trade secrets a cornerstone of his trade policy since taking office, with companies like Huawei attracting increased scrutiny as the U.S. combats what he has said is a threat to “national security.”