Huawei has been Biden its time, but there's no sign new US president will reverse American sanctions

Press secretary won't say nay or yea on Entity List, but prez says 'we need to play a better defense'

It has been six days since Joe Biden became president of the United States. Since then, he has wasted no time in reversing policy decisions made by his predecessor with a series of executive actions on LGBT rights, the environment, and race relations.

One Trump hangover that looks set to remain, however, is an antagonistic approach to China’s tech industry, with no respite likely for tech giant Huawei.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in her first ever Monday briefing of the new administration, dodged a question about whether Huawei would remain on the entity list – American companies must request permission to do business with those on the list – by discussing China's checkered reputation for respecting intellectual property rights.

"Well, technology, as I just noted, is, of course, at the center of the US-China competition. China has been willing to do whatever it takes to gain a technological advantage — stealing intellectual property, engaging in industrial espionage, and forcing technology transfer," Psaki said.

"Our view — the President’s view is we need to play a better defense, which must include holding China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and making sure that American technologies aren’t facilitating China’s military buildup," she added.

Biden is, according to Psaki, "firmly committed" to ensuring Chinese firms "cannot misappropriate and misuse American data." This issue is reportedly being reviewed, with the aim of creating a "comprehensive strategy."

“So there is, again, an ongoing review of a range of these issues. We want to look at them carefully, and we’ll be committed to approaching them through the lens of ensuring we’re protecting US data and America’s technological edge,” she said.

In its final two years in office, the Trump Administration began a concerted effort to isolate China’s tech and telecommunications giants from the global supply chain, as well as from investors in the US.

The biggest victim was, of course, Huawei. Unable to source new chips, carriers in the UK were banned from acquiring hardware from the company, and were ordered to rip and replace existing kit. The impact on Huawei’s mobile business has proven similarly catastrophic. It has lost market share, particularly outside Mainland China, and was forced to sell its high-volume Honor business unit.

In his last few months, Trump turned up the temperature, cancelling licences for Huawei and imposing restrictions on a wider swath of Chinese companies. Drone maker DJI, for example, was added to the Entity List over allegations it helped support the suppression of China’s Uighur ethno-religious minority.

Around the same time, China’s three main mobile carriers were placed on a financial blacklist over alleged ties to China’s military. This resulted in their de-listing from the New York Stock Exchange. American retail and institutional investors are prohibited from trading in their securities. Mobile maker Xiaomi suffered a similar fate.

It’s not clear whether the Biden Administration will continue ratcheting up the pressure, or merely continue to maintain existing restrictions. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see a major reversal on previous impositions, given the bipartisan nature of the opposition to Huawei in Congress, which saw members of both parties work together in lobbying foreign governments to block the embattled telecommunications firm. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022