U.S. Officially Blacklists Huawei (Updated)

Posted on May 16, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 29 Comments

Updated: Huawei has provided a statement which I’ve added to the end of the article. –Paul

As part of a trade war with China, the United States government formally added Huawei to its Entity List, barring it from doing business with any company based in the United States.

The blacklisting happened in a two-step process. First, the president of the United States signed an executive order—that didn’t name China, Huawei, or any other China-based firms—that bars U.S.-based companies from using telecom gear from sources the administration believes are threats national security. Then, the U.S. Commerce Department formally added Huawei and numerous Huawei partners to the Entity List, so that it will be covered by the executive order.

As you might imagine, the U.S. government backed up its move—which included declaring a national emergency—with some solid evidence against Huawei. This evidence includes [this sentence intentionally left blank because there is no evidence].

China, predictably, reacted with outrage, and described the blacklisting as “a wrongful action.”

“China has always stressed that the concept of national security should not be abused,” a China Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said. “It should not be used as a tool to push forward trade protectionism.”

Huawei, which had to be expecting this move, appears resigned to the inevitable.

“Restricting Huawei from doing business in the U.S. will not make the U.S. more secure or stronger,” a Huawei statement notes. “Instead, this will only serve to limit the U.S. to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the U.S. lagging behind in 5G deployment.”

In addition to hurting Huawei and other big Chinese firms, this action will also harm big U.S. technology firms like Qualcomm and Broadcom that do business with companies in that country. And as CNN notes, the order could also harm smaller American telecom companies, especially those in rural and underserved areas, that rely on low-cost providers like Huawei.

“We’ll just have to see what it is and we’ll have a definite reaction one way or another,” the CEO of a small network that uses Huawei gear told CNN. “Because when all this equipment went in there was no talk of these issues. [Will] there be help to replace it?”

In addition to the blacklisting, the U.S. government is also petitioning its allies to ban Huawei from their national 5G infrastructures, and it has seen some mixed success, with many countries in Western Europe, plus Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, reevaluating their use of Huawei equipment. But many have likewise complained about the lack of evidence, and some countries, like the UK, have pledged to allow Huawei to participate going forward under ongoing security reviews.

The fears about Huawei are centered on one point only: It is based in China and there is a belief—which both Huawei and China have denied, repeatedly—that it is required to work hand-in-hand with Chinese security services. In other words, many believe that the Chinese government could compel Huawei to use its products to spy on the West.

“China’s main export is espionage, and the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese ‘private-sector’ businesses like Huawei is imaginary,” Senator Ben Sasse said this week.

In response to these allegations, Huawei this week offered to sign no-spy agreements with Western governments and argued that spying on behalf of any government, China or otherwise, would effectively end its ability to compete globally.

“Huawei is the unparalleled leader in 5G,” a Huawei statement provided to Thurrott.com reads. “We are ready and willing to engage with the US government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security. Restricting Huawei from doing business in the US will not make the US more secure or stronger; instead, this will only serve to limit the US to inferior yet more expensive alternatives, leaving the US lagging behind in 5G deployment, and eventually harming the interests of US companies and consumers. In addition, unreasonable restrictions will infringe upon Huawei’s rights and raise other serious legal issues.”

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “U.S. Officially Blacklists Huawei (Updated)”

  1. JamesMcwindows

    I think a little research is in order... https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3372669 for some academic insight into how Huawei is run as a state enterprise. How it has like all other companys in China are required to have a government office monitoring its operations https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2116107/chinas-communist-party-boosts-presence-foreign-funded and how China is pushing for civil military fusion. See https://www.cfr.org/blog/civil-military-fusion-missing-link-between-chinas-technological-and-military-rise Paints a picture of a company that uses us tech to benefit there military directly.

    • evox81

      In reply to JamesMcwindows:

      I feel like you're presenting these in support of the move by the US government. However, while these certainly seem interesting for a structural look in to Huawei, none of these articles seem to have anything to do with the actual allegations.

      • JamesMcwindows

        Hi Evo, In reply to evox81: The Premise of Paul's argument is that Huawei telecom equipment is not linked to china's communist party or military influence or direct control (thus not a threat and the labeling of the company a national threat barred from doing business in the usa is miss-applied. But given the papers I listed earlier, A country such as the USA has to wonder if buying strategic assets (Assets that facilitate communication for their nation) provided from and by a company directly owned by the peoples republic of china a good idea? Huawei has direct access to the hardware and software that runs said tech and is responsible for its software including patches. A Company that is directed under china's law and over seen directly by their government officials to not only share all the patches with the government, but must work with their military to weaponize their equipment should war be declared... I feel the USA has made its choice on the matter. By the by, I am open to discussion on the matter. What are your thoughts evo?

        Also I think Paul forgot to mention that the entry list is not a complete block. Company's in the USA must apply for a permit to do business with Huawei now. That way the government can keep a closer eye on said equipment entering into the united states.


  2. pargon

    Paul loves bashing Trump for moves like this when really Huawei has been on the list during the Obama administration as well. They have been stealing US Technology for decades. Long over due, applaud this action.


    Paul should just move to China or Venezuela, Trump is so awful and these shithole countries are better than USA, obviously.

  3. crmguru

    If the us military was in any way envolved with enginering products for Apple, how do you think that would go over with the Chineese? The government of any country should not have the ability to go into this stuff and open back doors. In an cyber war China will just shutdown 5G networks of thier rivals... if we are lucky. Most likely they will just use it to packet sniff and build profiles on IP, Browsers, and ESN's. That is exactly what the US Military did in Iraq. They didn't shut the cell service down, they skimmed Sims, they built out a metadat picture on their enenmy. Who the contacts were, where their GPS we located etc. Having any possibility of any forergin government to have access to the network is too risky.

  4. melinau

    As a 'neutral' in UK my take on this is simple: Do I want buy \use USA-sourced products and be spied on by USA & allies (UK, Israel to name but 2) as well as China \Russia \ uncle Tom Cobley & all, or do I want to buy from China & be spied on by the same people?


    As an individual any notion of 'privacy' is a long-dead horse, which no amount of flogging will re-animate. While I see no reason why USA \ China \ UK or any other State Agent should take an interest in my inconsequential views or actions you never know....


    Personally I find China the nastiest & most dangerous regime on earth, and I have no doubt at all that Huawei like most other large Chinese companies is effectively an arm of the CP China, The Red Army and its corrupt minions. The Chinese people suffer the worst of both worlds: uncontrolled State Capitalism and vicious, undemocratic authoritarian rule by a small elite.


    For States the problem is both more complex & simpler. NSA in USA & GCHQ in UK and the equivalents in China, Israel, Russia, Iran, etc etc. are all full of talented and unscrupulous people whose main role is to infiltrate and compromise the other players' supposedly 'secure' systems. I don't know how successful they are - its a State secret...


    The big "But" in all this is that no-matter whose infrastructure products are used in Public Networks, its almost certain they will be compromised by at least one of the above, and probably all. As a State the only logical way to proceed is to build a completely separate telecommunications & data infrastructure using trusted suppliers & components. This should effectively be 'air-gapped' from the Public ones, and constantly integrity-checked. Even then so-called 'human assets' will probably compromise it!


    Returning to Trump's latest salvo in his stupid Trade-War, the truth is that its all protectionism. An even worse truth (for USA) is that US Tech giants' technology is slipping behind that of China. Why buy a (very good) iPhone 'designed' in USA, but built in China ahead of an equally good, but much cheaper alternative conceived & made in China? You can ask the same question about numerous so-called tech & consumer products.

  5. agilefrog

    An intelligent national security policy is to distrust each and every network and device, and to perform testing and hardening as appropriate to mitigate (reference here to Obama's custom hardened Blackberry) - but of course all this has nothing to do with security and everything to do with trade protectionism.

  6. nickysreensaver

    Huawai’s Founder former PLO dude. Daughter is a real sneak. Learned well from Daddy. This needs to move forward and if it breaks into east west internet and markets, that’s fine with me. It’s about security first. As for the trade war, China has been sucking us dry for years very poor terms setup by previous administrations. Needs to be fixed a little bit at the least. So they agree and then reneg on a deal. Typical. They need access to our markets. They will bend. It will take time and a lot of business is signed onto this. They know it’s got to stop. The tariff imbalance, the rampant intellectual property theft. Go Trump.

  7. PeterC

    This will not end well for US tech companies nor US consumers. I really do understand both sides of the arguments, really do, but this Will not end well for you. Sorry.

  8. Xatom

    Poor, sad Paul. And now contrary to his prayers, the UK is now revisiting banning this Chinese owned and state controlled company. That one can confuse a totalitarian dictatorship with no civil liberties to societies built in the rule of law is endlessly fascinating and terrifying to me. The abject naïveté is surreal.

  9. red.radar

    There is plenty of evidence of how Huaweii stole technology to build their dominance. If the company was willing to steal their way to relevance then they are capable of doing the Chinese Governement's surveillance for continued special treatment.


    The administration made the correct call.




  10. MarkWibaux

    New network architecture doing the rounds


    Internet ->

    Cisco Firewall (Protection against Chinese backdoors) ->

    Huawei Firewall (Protection against US backdoors) ->

    Juniper Firewall (Protection against Israeli backdoors) ->

    CheckPoint Firewall (Protection against Russian backdoors ->

    Internal Network



  11. Todd Northrop

    And when a deal finally happens that brings parity to the US-China trade relationship, Paul will yawn and make some disparaging remarks about Trump. Paul, please understand by writing in a partisan style you lose credibility in future articles, no matter if you're right or wrong.


    In this case you are dead-wrong in your analysis, especially with your flippant remark about there being no proof. The proof is ample and has already provided to the public by the administration numerous times. It was also provided by the very intelligence agencies that you have undoubtedly been defending (along with all of your fellow liberals) as being above reproach with regard to anything that could hurt Trump.


    I understand that being around other liberal nerds all the time has the ill effect of embuing your own personality with such traits, but for gosh sakes please leave it out of your commentary.

    • bluvg

      In reply to Speednet:

      I think you're reading your own partisan bias into this, not of Paul. I'm not even necessarily disagreeing with you about Huawei, but the arguments against that company started long before Trump, and Paul makes no mention here specific to a party or administration.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Speednet:

      I'm not sure what you are talking about specifically, but if you are talking about proof (or even minimal evidence) that Huawei's network equipment contains deliberately planted backdoors, then, no, the administration has provided nothing of the kind.


      Proof would not consist of a intelligence asset simply saying it is so, Proof would be forensic evidence easily obtained from the software or hardware of Huawei's equipment. As I've noted before, the capability to obtain this sort of evidence has been common knowledge at least as far back as the 80s and is not classified. The fact that such evidence has not been presented by government suggests it doesn't exist since revealing it would not in any way compromise intelligence assets or classified techniques.


      Your comment about "liberal nerds" is kind of funny since engineering types traditionally are a rather conservative bunch.

  12. Patrick Yore

    This is a joke... Trumpy just pissed the are miles behind China in 5G technology

  13. bluvg

    I guess Hauwei weren't "extremely strong and powerful" enough in their denials....

  14. Chris Payne

    Second graf: " the administration believes are threats national security."


    Missing the word "to."

  15. skane2600

    This move is of dubious constitutionality and problematic enforceability. Not that different from declaring Facebook and Twitter as threats to national security and nationalizing them.


    We really need Presidential power to be pared back to what the founders intended.

  16. mmcpher

    It will be interesting to see how well this wears. Particularly if Huawei continues to put out cutting edge consumer products. The foldable Mate X will draw interest, despite the US unavailability and the price. More attention after the problematic Samsung Fold up. Huawei seems to be soldiering on and selling a few phones without us.

  17. anthonye1778

    This is stupid. Understood, but stupid. Huawei is, I believe, the largest telecommunications operator in the world and is only behind Samsung when it comes to smartphones. Hit Huawei, and you hit China's economy pretty hard. We'll see if it works.


    But then again, this entire trade ware is moronic and unnecessary and is only hurting people.

    • SenorGravy

      In reply to AnthonyE1778: You obviously don’t understand the core issues of this trade empasse. Neither do you understand exactly how Huawei became the largest telecom equipment provider.
      When you and the government are one and the same, you can come in and offer equipment at a loss to gain market share. Huawei is infamous for this.
      Also, if anyone thinks China is our friend or just another country, you’re crazy. They are an enemy to freedom and democracy and anyone should shudder at the US or any democratic country being dependant on China for its telecom infrastructure.


    • prjman

      In reply to AnthonyE1778: Ask any US company that has had a modicum of success manufacturing or designing products if China stealing intellectual property is an issue.

      The relative strength of our economy makes this a great time to try to address this issue. Just because it's Trump doesn't make it wrong.


  18. will

    I am tired of making America great, I want the whole world to be great.

  19. rm

    This is a Trump trade negotiations bargaining chip.

    • MachineGunJohn

      In reply to RM:

      It's long overdue. That they attempted to wait until a trade deal was signed is only because it had effectively already been imposed. Note that in the UK the former head of MI6 who no longer needs to trade security for the "political correctness" needed to keep that position, and heads of defense have teamed the politicos currently in charge for not also banning Huawei from UK 5g infrastructure.

      Not sure what Paul's big issue with this is, the only losers in this are the chicomms.

  20. brduffy

    Yeah, I'm not losing any sleep over this.

  21. RobertJasiek

    And who protects mankind and, in particular, US citizens from US secret service spying?

  22. crmguru

    https://mashable.com/2014/03/31/nsa-iraq/

    It is not a grand conspiracy. We know what can happen when a foreign government has a backdoor to the your telecom switches. This is what we did in Iraq, and Afghanistan, etc..

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