In the last days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the outgoing Trump administration has taken a final swipe at Huawei.
According to a report from Reuters, the US government has decided to revoke as many as eight licenses granted to Intel, Japan’s Kioxia and other companies that had allowed shipments of certain semiconductor industry products to Huawei. In addition, it is reportedly likely to deny – if it hasn’t already denied – more than 100 requests for additional licenses.
Trump’s goals are evidently to put more pressure on Huawei’s 5G telecom business and to put Biden on the spot, forcing him to either maintain the pressure or look weak on China if he reverses those decisions.
Huawei, which has reportedly stockpiled as much as two years’ worth of key components, does not seem to face an immediate problem.
But American, Japanese, Korean and perhaps other makers of semiconductors and related products could be faced with a test of new rules issued on January 9 by China’s Ministry of Commerce. These rules allow Chinese companies to sue foreign companies that participate in sanctions against them for damages.
Huawei uses processors from Intel and AMD, programable logic devices from Xilinx, and NAND flash memory from Samsung, SK Hynix and Kioxia. These and other foreign companies are potential defendants.
Scott Foster is an analyst with Lightstream Research, Tokyo.