WASHINGTON • The Trump administration announced yesterday it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei Technologies, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.
The US Commerce Department actions, first reported by Reuters, will expand restrictions announced in May and aimed at preventing the Chinese telecommunications giant from obtaining semiconductors without a special licence – including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with US software or technology.
The Trump administration will also add 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to the US government’s economic blacklist, the sources said, raising the total to 152 affiliates since Huawei was first added in May last year.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business that the restrictions on Huawei-designed chips imposed in May “led them to do some evasive measures. They were going through third parties”.
“The new rule makes it clear that any use of American software or American fabrication equipment is banned and requires a licence,” added Mr Ross.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the rule change “will prevent Huawei from circumventing US law through alternative chip production and provision of off-the-shelf chips”.
He added in a statement that “Huawei has continuously tried to evade” the US restrictions imposed in May.
Huawei did not immediately comment.
With US-China relations at their worst in decades, Washington is pushing governments around to world to squeeze Huawei out, arguing that the company would hand over data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei denies that it spies for China.
The new actions, effective immediately, should prevent Huawei’s attempts to circumvent US export controls. It “makes clear that we’re covering off-the-shelf designs that Huawei may be seeking to purchase from a third-party design house”, one Commerce Department official told Reuters.
A new separate rule requires companies on the economic blacklist to obtain a licence when a company like Huawei on the list acts “as a purchaser, intermediate consignee, ultimate consignee or end user”.
The US department also confirmed that it will not extend a temporary general licence that expired last Friday for users of Huawei devices and telecommunication providers. Parties must now submit licence applications for transactions previously authorised.
Number of Huawei affiliates that have been added to the US government’s economic blacklist since May last year.
The Commerce Department is adopting a limited permanent authorisation for Huawei entities to allow “ongoing security research critical to maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing” networks and equipment.
Existing US restrictions have already had a heavy impact on Huawei and its suppliers. The May restrictions do not fully go into effect until Sept 14.
On Aug 8, financial magazine Caixin reported that Huawei will stop making its flagship Kirin chipsets next month due to US pressure on suppliers.
Huawei’s HiSilicon division has relied on software from US companies such as Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys to design its chips, and outsourced the production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which uses equipment from US companies. TSMC has said it will not ship wafers to Huawei after Sept 15.