December 17, 2020

Open Source Intelligence

OSI World News

U.S. doubles down on Huawei’s access to chips and technology

Today, the Trump administration announced it would further tighten restrictions on Huawei Technologies, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

The administration continues to disembark on expanding restrictions announced in May, which aims to prevent the Chinese telecommunications giant from obtaining semiconductors, the chips used in mobile devices, and computers without special licensing. The restrictions include chips made by foreign entities that are combined with US software or technology solutions.

The Trump administration will also include 38 Huawei more affiliates in 21 countries to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist, the sources said, raising the total to 152 affiliates since Huawei was first added to the ‘blacklist’ in May 2019.

Last year the Chinese-based cell phone manufacturer was accused of including ‘back doors’ in their product in order to spy on American citizens.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the restrictions on Huawei chips imposed in May “led them to do some evasive measures.”

Ross stated that Chinese based Huawei “were going through third parties” to circumvent the restrictions.

For example, the company had found a creative loophole since President Trump shunned them earlier this year. They (Huawei) claim the export ban was only applicable for mobile devices made after the order, so they have rebranded phones made prior and relabeled them.

For instance, the Huawei P30 Pro was rebranded as the ‘P30 Pro New Edition‘ — this workaround, while subtle, allows the company to use Google app licensing, which isn’t possible with newer devices.

New devices from Huawei were banned from using Google app licensing which provides applications like Gmail, Google Maps and other related Google services which are essentially the core of Android phones; the rebranding was a slick way to bypass U.S. restrictions, but with the new Trump administration announcement today, this type of product maneuvering and rebranding will be harder for the Chinese based company.

The new rule makes it clear that any use of American software or American fabrication equipment is banned and requires a license.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also chimed in on the new rules saying the new measures “will prevent Huawei from circumventing U.S. law through alternative chip production and provision of off-the-shelf chips.” He also added that “Huawei has continuously tried to evade U.S. restrictions imposed in May.”