US extends license for businesses to work with Huawei by 90 days

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has been singled out by Washington as a national security threat (AFP Photo/PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Monday granted another 90 days for companies to cease doing business with China's telecoms giant Huawei, saying the move would allow service providers to continue to offer coverage in rural areas.

President Donald Trump in May effectively barred Huawei from American communications networks after Washington found the company had violated US sanctions on Iran and attempted to block a subsequent investigation.

The extension, renewing one issued in August, "will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

"The department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security."

Huawei said Monday the decision did nothing to alter the company's view that Washington has treated it unfairly and called on the Trump administration to remove Huawei from a foreign technology blacklist.

American officials also claim Huawei is a tool of Beijing's electronic espionage, making its equipment a threat to US national security -- something the company denies.

Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company's founder and CEO, was arrested in Canada last year and is now fighting extradition to the United States on fraud and conspiracy charges tied to US sanctions.

The battle over Huawei has landed squarely in the middle of Trump's trade battle with Beijing.

US officials initially said the two were unrelated, as the Huawei actions were strictly law enforcement and national security matters.

But Trump has suggested a resolution to the trade conflict could involve reaching some common ground concerning Huawei.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang Tuesday declined to comment on whether trade negotiations from the two countries have made progress on the Huawei issue.

"We do not require foreign governments to offer any special treatment for Chinese companies," Geng said at a regular press briefing.

"All we ask from foreign governments is equal treatment for Chinese companies including Huawei."

In a statement, the Chinese firm said Washington's decision to blacklist it "has caused more harm to the US than to Huawei."

"This has done significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business and has already disrupted collaboration and undermined the mutual trust on which the global supply chain depends," it said.

"We call on the US government to put an end to this unjust treatment and remove Huawei from the entity list."

Following the near-collapse of US-China trade talks in May, Washington added Huawei to a list of companies effectively barred from purchasing US technology without prior approval from the US government.

But, since companies have said they need time to begin to comply with the change, Trump has granted a series of limited reprieves, which officials say allow only "specific, limited" transactions involving exports and re-exports.