Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Ren Zhengfei on Tuesday told the state media the United States “underestimates” his company’s capabilities. His statement came a day after the Donald Trump administration gave the company a 90-day temporary licence, saying it was aimed at minimising disruption for customers, AFP reported.
The company was placed on a blacklist last week, a move that it alleges is aimed at thwarting its global ambitions to become a market leader in next-generation 5G technology. Ren, however, assured that “Huawei’s 5G [plans] will absolutely not be affected”. The executive said the temporary reprieve held little meaning for the company as it had already “been preparing for this”.
The delay in enforcing the ban does not change the order that President Trump issued for national security reasons, said the US Commerce Department. “The goal seems to be to prevent internet, computer and cell phone systems from crashing,” Kevin Wolf, a former commerce department official, told Reuters. “This is not a capitulation. This is housekeeping.”
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the 90 days would allow the government to make “appropriate long term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services”. The government will evaluate if the period of reprieve needs to be extended.
On Sunday, Google suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services, except the ones that are publicly available through open source licensing. Huawei is the biggest supplier of network gear used by cellphone and internet companies.
Many countries, along with the US, have expressed fears of China using Huawei products for surveillance. However, the company has denied these allegations. In January, a minister in Poland said the country was considering to introduce legislation to limit the use of the company’s products after a Huawei employee was arrested in Warsaw on spying charges.
The decision to blacklist the telecom company came amidst a trade war between the United States and China. On May 10, Donald Trump increased import duty on Chinese products worth nearly $300 billion (Rs 21 lakh crore). Beijing retaliated by announcing plans to hike tariffs on $60 billion (Rs 4 lakh crore) worth of imports from the United States from June 1.