Washington’s wielding of strategic export controls has seriously blunted Beijing’s technological ambitions…Nevertheless, policymakers would be wise to remain vigilant given indications that Huawei is adapting its business model and circumventing U.S. restrictions to maintain persistent access to American networks.
The U.S. government’s regulatory assault on Huawei has been undeniably stark. Starting in 2019, Trump-era rule-changes prohibited the company from selling its wireless gear in the U.S. or purchasing American-produced semiconductor chips, which supported its then-highly profitable consumer business. This order was expanded in 2020 to prevent foreign chipmakers, such as TSMC in Taiwan, from supplying Huawei. To Ren’s credit, two years passed before these bans significantly impacted Huawei’s production of smartphones, PCs and tablets. One reason: Huawei stockpiled U.S. chips before the bans went into effect, with the goal of shielding the company from a crackdown.