Tuesday, 11 June 2019 06:33

US gives strong hint that Huawei a pawn in trade deal Featured

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US gives strong hint that Huawei a pawn in trade deal Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

An official in the Trump administration has given a strong hint that the strictures placed on the Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies by Washington are all part of a gambit to help the US strike a trade deal with China.

Reuters reported Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as saying on Sunday that President Donald Trump might ease the restrictions that the US has imposed on Huawei if there was progress in sorting out the ongoing trade war with China.

If that did not happen, then Mnuchin said the the tariffs that have been imposed on China would remain in order to cut the US deficit.

In May, Trump himself hinted at the same thing, contradicting his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the process. Trump told reporters at the White House on 23 May: "Huawei is something that is very dangerous. You look at what they’ve done from a security standpoint, a military standpoint. Very dangerous.”

But despite that, he added, the odds were good that the US and China would reach a deal to end the escalating row over trade and "it’s possible that Huawei would be included in a trade deal".

On 16 May, the US imposed a ban on Huawei and 68 of its affiliates, preventing the company from importing components from American companies without government approval. Some of the affiliates are in other countries like Canada, Japan, Brazil, the UK, Singapore and others.

On 20 May, Google announced it was cutting off Huawei's access to future updates of Google's Android and Google Play Store. On 21 May, the US Commerce Department eased some of the restrictions, allowing Huawei to maintain and update existing networks and handsets.

Trump also put in place a ban on the use of equipment from Huawei and its fellow Chinese firm, ZTE, within the US but that would not have much effect on either firm as the US uses very little equipment from either company.

Mnuchin said: “I think what the president is saying is, if we move forward on trade, that perhaps he’ll be willing to do certain things on Huawei if he gets comfort from China on that and certain guarantees. But these are national security issues.

“If China wants to move forward with the deal, we’re prepared to move forward on the terms we’ve done. If China doesn’t want to move forward, then President Trump is perfectly happy to move forward with tariffs to rebalance the relationship.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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