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Huawei secures “temporary general licence” to buy US tech

Huawei has secured the right to temporarily continue procuring US technology after the Trump administration relaxed trade rules imposed on the Chinese firm.

The decision to grant Huawei a “temporary general licence” until 19 August came as a number of US suppliers, including Google, Intel and Qualcomm, said they would be forced to stop selling their products to the company.

It had been feared that Google would no longer be able to provide Huawei with the complete version of its Android mobile operating software. Under the rules, the company could still access the open-source platform, but may not have received advanced notice of security updates, potentially leaving its customers at risk.

The temporary licence will ensure that Huawei customers will continue to receive updates, while telecom operators are given more time to prepare for the ban. However, Huawei will have to apply for the US government’s approval before buying American technology for new devices.

“The National Cyber Security Centre understands that the [temporary licence] allows companies to provide support and services to handsets that were available to the public before 16 May 2019,” the British agency said in a statement. “Each company will make its own choice about whether to do so.”

It’s expected that the new deadline will create a fresh impetus for the US and China to resolve their ongoing trade dispute. However Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, has suggested he was not phased by the US’s manoeuvring. “The US government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities,” he told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

The Information and Bloomberg reported that Huawei has stockpiled enough components to ensure it could continue operating for the next few months. The company’s mobile chief Richard Yu Chendong had told Die Welt, a Germany publication, that it had also developed an alternative operating system.

However, if the company is to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, it will need to make it as easy as possible for Samsung customers to move their data to Huawei devices. If it no longer operates within the same software ecosystem, they may struggle to do so.