WASHINGTON • The US will amend its prohibitions on American companies doing business with China’s Huawei to allow them to work together on setting standards for next-generation 5G networks.
The US Commerce Department and other agencies signed off on the rule change, which is awaiting publication in the Federal Register, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The rule was sent to the Federal Register last Friday and was set to be published as early as yesterday.
“The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation,” said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The department is committed to protecting US national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging US industry to fully engage and advocate for US technologies to become international standards.”
The Commerce Department publicly announced the move on Monday. It noted that US participation in standards setting, where companies develop specifications to allow equipment from different companies to function together, “influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies”.
In the telecommunications industry, 5G or fifth-generation wireless networks are expected to power everything from high-speed video transmissions to self-driving cars.
Last year, the US placed Huawei on the Commerce Department’s so-called entity list, which restricted sales of US goods and technology to the Chinese company, citing national security concerns.
Industry and government officials said the rule change should not be viewed as a sign of weakening US resolve against the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker. They said the Huawei entity listing put the US at a disadvantage in standards setting. With US companies uncertain over what technology or information they were allowed to share, engineers from some US firms had reduced their participation, giving Huawei a stronger voice.
The new rule came in response to concerns from US companies and lawmakers, said a person briefed on the matter.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is meanwhile raising a new argument in a Canadian court in a bid to fight extradition to the US, court documents released on Monday showed.
Meng’s lawyers claim the case that the US submitted to Canada is “so replete with intentional and reckless error” that it violates her rights.
Meng, 48, was detained in Vancouver on Dec 1, 2018, at the request of the US, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading HSBC Holdings about Huawei’s business in Iran.