May 21, 2019
The trade war between China and the US has been heated in recent weeks, with a lot of the repercussions falling on Huawei, the Chinese tech giant famous for smartphones and espionage. Fortunately for them, the US government has provided a 90-day license reprieve to avoid the many complications on the horizon.
From outright bans to executive orders, Huawei has been on the receiving end of most of the negativity between these two great world powers. Admittedly, their devices present a unique problem for the US, as the lines between the Chinese government and Huawei management are quite blurry. Still, the dramatic sanctions put in place could have had some serious repercussions for the millions of users worldwide. Fortunately, they've got a little breathing room… for now.
What's Changed About the Huawei Ban?
Yesterday, the Huawei ban was looking pretty bleak. The government ban had placed dramatic restrictions that would ban US companies from supplying hardware or software to Huawei. This caused a number of companies — including Google — to reevaluate their relationships with the Chinese tech giant, creating a ripple effect throughout the tech industry.
Today though, the aggression has been scaled back, as the US has granted Huawei a 90-day license reprieve that would allow them to use US technology as long as they already have a license to do so. Any new technology would require a new license, which in this case, would likely be rejected.
The reasoning behind this step back is unclear, although there are plenty of reasons that make sense. For one, the security risk to current Huawei users would be stark if the company wasn't allowed to use US technology to protect your personal information. Additionally, the trade war has had a notably negative effect on the economy, and the potential for this ban to wipe out jobs and cost money was pretty high, making it a no-brainer to pump the brakes a bit.
What Happens After 90 Days?
As was made clear, the license reprieve only lasts for 90 days, so what happens after those three months are up? No one really knows! Because this deescalation was as swift and out of nowhere as the escalation, it's hard to say what the future holds for US-Huawei relations, particularly because the original sanctions were likely more of a negotiation tactic rather than well-thought-out policy.
Simply put, it all depends on whether the US and China can reach a deal on trade. While neither country seems terribly eager to get anything done outside of tariffs, a deal could be made within the 90 days, which would effectively make all this business with Huawei moot. On the other hand, tensions seem to be rising rather than falling, which opens the door to a wide range of future problems for Huawei and its users.
I Have a Huawei Phone – What About Me?
Huawei users could have some serious problems to address once the 90-day license is finished, but for now, you can rest easy. While Google initially planned to revoke Huawei access to the Android operating system, they've dialed that back since the announcement of the reprieve.
This is, however, just a Band-Aid. If the license is revoked without a solution, there's going to be little point in buying a phone that doesn't have access to Qualcomm Snapdragon chips or the Android operating system. Sure, rumors have claimed that Huawei is building their own OS in the event of the ban going back into place, but it's going to have some serious growing pains. If something isn't fixed and fixed fast, Huawei is going to have to make some serious adjustments in a short period of time.
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