The US has now suspended its decision to put Huawei on its entity list for a year, calling into question how serious it was in the first place.

The announcement from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) started with a call for public comment on the need to keep granting Huawei Temporary General License (TGL) extensions, with this being the third. The very existence of a TGL somewhat undermines the original decision to put Huawei on the entity list, which increasingly looks like little more than crude political posturing.

“BIS has requested comments to evaluate the need to extend the TGL, whether any other changes may be warranted to the TGL and to identify any alternative authorization or other regulatory provisions that may more effectively address what is being authorized under the TGL,” said the announcement. “While the 45-day extension allows existing telecommunication providers—particularly those in rural communities—the ability to continue to temporarily and securely operate existing networks while they identify alternatives to Huawei for future operation.”

It goes on to point out that the reason for sticking Huawei on the entity list in the first place was because it supposedly poses a national security risk. What is unsaid but strongly implied is: if it’s such a security risk, how come we’re still doing business with it a year down the line?

One increasingly plausible answer is that the move to put Huawei on the entity list was never about security and was instead an attempt by US President Trump to raise the stakes in his trade war with China. His bluff appears to have been called, however, and BIS seems to be losing patience with the situation. This call for public input is probably designed to pressure Trump into either following through on the entity list thing, or performing a humiliating U-turn.


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