The Trump administration has been at war with Huawei for the past two years, calling the company a national security risk due to its alleged ties to the Chinese government. An executive order banned companies (even international companies) from selling Huawei hardware or software with US technology, and additional restrictions on trade with Huawei have made it extremely difficult for the company to continue building networking equipment and smartphones. It’s been a rough few years for Huawei, but will things be any different now that the Biden administration is in charge?
As The Wall Street Journal reports, Huawei certainly seems to be sending out feelers now that President Biden has settled in. Among the tools used against Huawei was an FCC ruling last year that declared Huawei a threat to national security and banned US telecommunications companies from using government funding to buy Huawei equipment. Huawei has filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit challenging the ruling, calling it “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion, and not supported by substantial evidence.”
Xiaomi filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month after the Trump administration, in one of its latest acts of power, declared Xiaomi a “Communist Chinese military company” and banned American citizens from owning Xiaomi stock. Xiaomi called the ruling “unlawful and unconstitutional”, arguing that it denied the company a legal due process.
The FCC is under new leadership under Biden, but an FCC spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that it supported the earlier ruling against Huawei. “Last year, the FCC issued a final designation identifying Huawei as a threat to national security based on a substantial body of evidence developed by the FCC and numerous U.S. national security agencies,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We will continue to defend that decision.” The US “substantial body of evidence” showing that Huawei spies for the Chinese government have never been made public.
The Biden administration is currently in the midst of a review of Trump’s old policies and does not appear to have reached a conclusion on Huawei. The Commerce Department is responsible for the Huawei export ban, and while incoming Secretary Gina Raimondo said she would “protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference,” she also declined to promise to enforce the Huawei ban until an assessment was completed. .
Huawei began courting the Biden administration earlier this week when Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei said he would “welcome” a phone call and open communication from the new president. “If Huawei’s manufacturing capacity can be expanded, US companies would also have more options to supply,” Ren told reporters. “I think that will be beneficial for both parties. I believe that [the] new government would consider such business interests as they come to decide their new policies.”