Tags: trump | huawei | china

Trump Hasn't Surrendered on Huawei — Yet

Trump Hasn't Surrendered on Huawei — Yet

A Huawei logo is seen on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2019) introducing next-generation technology at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) in Shanghai on June 26, 2019. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 02 July 2019 04:12 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For a few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, it looked like America’s policy on Huawei had collapsed.

After that meeting, Trump announced that he would allow U.S. tech companies to export less sensitive equipment to the Chinese telecom giant that his government has been warning allies not to use in their 5G wireless networks. As my colleague Tim Culpan correctly noted, this undermines the U.S. position on Huawei, making it look like a pawn in a wider trade negotiation. Trump is now saying he will leave the thorny question of Huawei till the end of negotiations, suggesting that a crucial matter of national security is negotiable, like export limits on soybeans or aluminum.

That said, it’s also important to note that — for the moment — the core of U.S. policy on Huawei remains unchanged. The U.S. has not, for example, relaxed its ban on Huawei tech on its own 5G network. Nor will Trump’s concession affect the U.S. diplomatic campaign to get allies to do the same.

That’s because the export ban was never about cybersecurity, notes Robert Atkinson, the founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “It was always about inflicting pain on the Chinese economy,” he says. The idea was to pressure China to make concessions on other elements of the trade deal.

U.S. officials working on the Huawei issue tell me the import ban remains in effect. There are also no current plans to remove Huawei, for example, from the Commerce Department’s “entity list,” which restricts exports of sensitive technology that affect national security. “This not a general amnesty,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday.

If Trump’s concessions end here, then his Huawei policy might actually thread the needle: furthering U.S. economic interests while also protecting national security. The problem, of course, is that the president has suggested there is still room to negotiate. Here it’s worth remembering why Huawei is a problem in the first place.

Consider a recent report from an Ohio based cybersecurity firm called Finite State. According to the Wall Street Journal, that report found more than half of the nearly 10,000 firmware images encoded in Huawei’s network gear contained vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious hackers. This is the back door U.S. military and intelligence officials have been warning about for more than a decade. Since China enacted new laws in 2017 that compel its companies to cooperate with its espionage, these back doors risk giving China the ability to disrupt the economies of any nation that allows Huawei equipment onto its 5G network.

This is why members of Congress from both parties, such as senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, have explicitly warned Trump not to make Huawei a “bargaining chip” in trade negotiations with China. The risk of Chinese government access to the internet of things in a 5G world is too great.

Unfortunately, Trump is still acting as if this threat is a negotiating tactic and not a national security imperative. As he told reporters after his meeting with Xi: “We’re leaving Huawei toward the end. We’re going to see. We’ll see where we go with the trade agreement.”

It’s possible that Trump won’t make more concessions on Huawei. But even if he doesn’t, some damage has already been done. As he has with his vacillating hyperbole on North Korea, Trump has managed to confuse allies as well as adversaries. And that’s a shame. U.S. national security — not to mention global stability — depends on quarantining Chinese telecommunications networks from the rest of the world. That will require American and European tech companies to move their supply chains from China. Why would they start such a difficult process now when the president himself says he may reverse his own policy for the right price?

Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun, and UPI. To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© Copyright 2019 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

1Like our page
For a few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, it looked like America’s policy on Huawei had collapsed.
trump, huawei, china
Tuesday, 02 July 2019 04:12 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved