Washington (CNN) The US government is reviewing a policy that would allow certain US exports to continue to Huawei, despite widespread pressure from the Trump and Biden administrations to prevent the Chinese telecommunications giant from receiving US technology.
Alan Estevez, a Commerce Department official, told lawmakers Tuesday that the policy is “under review” as the agency conducts a “top-to-bottom review” of our export control policies related to the [People’s Republic of China].”
Estevez testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which held a hearing to scrutinize China’s impact on US national security.
In 2019, Huawei was one of several Chinese companies placed on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List, which prohibits US companies from trading certain items with listed entities unless they are licensed to do so.
US officials have expressed concern that Huawei’s 5G wireless networking equipment could allow the Chinese government to spy on US communications. Huawei has denied it poses a security risk, and its founder has said the company would resist any attempt by the Chinese government to obtain its data.
Between January and March 2022, the Department of Commerce approved more than $23 billion in license applications for trade with China-affiliated companies on the Entity List, according to Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. McCaul confronted Estevez at Tuesday’s hearing, asking the Commerce Department to reconcile the licensing approvals with the U.S. government’s broader efforts to sideline Huawei and similar companies.
“A licensing rule from the previous administration that still stands for Huawei allows things to go below 5G, below cloud level,” said Estevez, “and I will say all those things are under review.”
Entity List restrictions do not provide a “general embargo” on exports in general, Estevez added, but rather reflect specific rules about certain exports.
Separately, the Department of Commerce took action in 2020 to prevent Huawei’s suppliers from selling the company’s semiconductor chips made with US-built software and equipment, unless those suppliers have also obtained a license.
Other parts of the US government have also opposed Huawei. The Federal Communications Commission banned U.S. wireless carriers from using federal funding to purchase Huawei networking equipment, and last year also banned future approvals of Huawei equipment for sale in the United States, in the equipment authorization body’s first use from the FCC for a national security agency. goal.