Trump May Ease Restrictions on Chinese Tech Giant Huawei, and Republicans Aren’t on Board: 5 Things to Know

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Donald Trump ruffled some feathers within his own political party after announcing that he will consider loosening regulations against Chinese technology giant Huawei.

On Saturday, President Trump announced that he is considering allowing Huawei — which is one of the biggest telecommunications companies on the planet — to consider sales in the United States as part of his trade negotiations with China.

While many were happy to see progress on trade negotiations, many fear this could be a disaster for the United States.

Here are five things to know about Trump’s negotiations with Huawei.

Why does everyone seem to hate Huawei?

Huawei is a controversial company, to say the least. The tech giant leads in many corners of the global tech industry, including number one in telecommunications and number two in cell phone production.

While Huawei actually produces more phones than Apple, there is a reason why the company may sound unfamiliar to many Americans: They’ve been blacklisted from the United States.

Huawei’s ban wasn’t an attempt to protect American made products. This ban went into place due to national security concerns.

Although Huawei maintains that it is an independent company, many believe the tech giant and the Chinese government have significant overlap. As the New York Times attempted to explain, the lines between the Chinese Communist Party and Huawei are incredibly blurred. The company claims that it is owned by its employees, but reports claim the Chinese government has a firm grasp on the company — as it does with most industries.

Because of this tie to the Chinese government, American security experts fear that the company will sell data collected on Huawei products and use them against American security interests.

These fears aren’t unfounded. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, White House officials found that Huawei products collected information from consumers without consent.

“This report supports our assessment that since 2009, Huawei has maintained covert access to some of the systems it has installed for international customers. Huawei does not disclose this covert access to customers nor local governments. This covert access enables Huawei to record information and modify databases on those local systems.”

These findings prompted the Trump administration to slowly restrict Huawei’s products until they were essentially banned from sale in the United States. Similar bans have been taken up by European countries, as well.

What are Republicans saying about Trump’s deal?

Trump plans to allow the sale of widely available Huawei products in the United States, but most Republicans aren’t having it.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been Huawei’s loudest critic.

Following Trump’s announcement on Huawei, Rubio made it clear that he would do everything in his power to stop Huawei from getting its foot back into the U.S. market place. He took to Twitter and vowed to draft legislation to block Huawei if Trump’s trade deals grant them access to the U.S.

Rubio claimed such legislation would pass with a “veto-proof majority.”

From the looks of things, he might be right. Many Republican senators have made it clear that they do not support Huawei’s reentrance into U.S. markets.

What are Democrats saying about Trump’s deal?

Republicans are not alone in their concerns over Huawei.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made it clear he would work to oppose the Chinese tech giant. Schumer — like Trump — understands that Huawei is a bargaining chip to be used in trade deals with China, but he thinks this is the wrong time to use it.

With support from leading Republicans and Democrats, it looks like Rubio is right about securing a veto-proof majority against deals with Huawei.

Who supports Trump’s decision?

From the looks of things, no one is on board politically with Trump’s decision on Huawei. However, some in the tech industry see open dealings with Huawei as a good thing.

When Trump originally pulled the plug on Huawei phones, some U.S. tech companies that provide software for the company lost out on a lot of business. Google, for instance, stopped providing Andriod operating systems to Huawei when they became blacklisted in the U.S.

“The (US) companies were not exactly happy that they couldn’t sell,” Trump noted during the G20 Summitt on Saturday.

Although it isn’t yet clear if these companies would reopen sales to Huawei, they could stand to make a significant profit if Huawei sales took off in the U.S.

What is going to happen next?

It isn’t clear.

The Trump administration has yet to release the full details of their plan for Huawei and, from the sound of things, the plan is contingent on Chinese officials coming to an agreement with Trump.

Many, including Rubio, still have questions about what products will be included in Trump’s negotiations.

However, it is pretty clear that Rubio and his colleagues in the Senate plan to throw up as many roadblocks as possible to prevent Huawei from cruising back into the U.S. market.

What do you think?

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Kim
Member

It looks like a good time to send an email to our POTUS- this company cannot be allowed to have any access to our technology through software sold by a US company. The risk of them sneaking into our system through that software program isn’t high- it’s inevitable. He cannot back down on this.

Screwtape
Member

Huawei entered the mobile market through the PRC’s “tell us everything” policy. When the execs at Motorola and Nokia wanted to manufacture in China they had to surrender designs, engineering, etc.

Now Motorola and Nokia are all but dead.

Still think Trump is crazy to call out China’s unfair/criminal trade practices? Do you believe that any electronics from China don’t have “backdoors”, i.e. built-in hacks?

Phoenix
Member

I wonder what changed the President’s mind on Huawei being a national security threat…

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