WASHINGTON – Huawei’s name is often translated in English as “Chinese excellence.” The Trump administration last week embarked on a campaign to rebrand the tech giant, in effect, as a “Chinese threat” and check its expansion in the West.
The Huawei assault may be the Trump administration’s most important long-term strategic decision, because it confronts China’s technological challenge to America head on. The goal is to prevent Huawei from dominating 5G wireless communications, the next phase of the digital revolution, by blocking use of its technology by America and its partners.
President Trump’s action was the digital version of a combat-mobilization order. Because of Huawei’s alleged threat to U.S. national security, he put it on the so-called “entity list,” which forbids U.S. firms from selling technology to it without special permission. The impact was clear Monday when Google announced it would stop selling updates of its Android operating system for Huawei phones.
The wiring of the global economy is entangled, so the Commerce Department granted a 90-day delay, probably to allow Google to send security patches and other urgent fixes. Commerce, meanwhile, has 150 days to draft rules that would block U.S. companies from buying Huawei equipment, though legal experts predicted that Huawei might successfully challenge that ban in U.S. courts.