US eases Huawei curbs to counter China’s push on tech standards

The US government is loosening restrictions on the sharing of technology with blacklisted firms, seeking to maintain America’s lead in setting international standards as China closes the gap.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued a rule authorising the release of certain technology and software when organisations deliberate and decide on standards, it said in a statement on Thursday.

That should address questions over whether US firms need to secure licence before sharing “low-level” technology during such processes with sanctioned parties including Huawei Technologies Co., it said.

The Trump administration in 2019 added Huawei and a number of its non-American affiliates to a blacklist that curtails the Chinese tech giant’s access to critical US suppliers.

The policy, however, has led US companies to limit their participation in standards-related activities at a time when Chinese companies are ramping up efforts to increase their clout.

Washington remains concerned that China’s government and its largest companies are taking a bigger role in technical groups that determine the way technology is designed and applied globally, theoretically handing a competitive edge to corporations that the US deems national security threats

“US stakeholders need to be fully engaged in international standards organisations, particularly where the critical but sometimes invisible standards that they set have important national security as well as commercial implications,” Alan Estevez, the Commerce undersecretary for industry and security, said in the statement.

The new rule will help advance “US leadership in these critical bodies”, he added. Huawei has consistently denied it poses a threat to the US.

Written by Ben Jiang (South China Mourning Post, Bloomberg)

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