Technology war: Washington orders new sanctions against Huawei

Since the start of the trade war with China, the American authorities have been doing everything to limit the Chinese firm's presence in the United States. NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

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Tensions between the United States and China are not easing. The U.S. government wants to ban Huawei from accessing U.S. technology to develop semiconductors abroad. This new measure risks further straining relations between Washington and Beijing.


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Placed on the black list just a year ago, the Chinese telecoms giant could no longer do business with American companies. But that didn't stop Huawei from getting around these restrictions. Foreign companies used computer programs and American know-how to manufacture semiconductors for the Chinese group or its subsidiaries.

This practice is now prohibited. The Commerce Department considers it a threat to national security.

Since the start of the trade war with China, the American authorities have been doing everything to limit the Chinese firm's presence in the United States. Washington accuses Huawei of working with the Beijing authorities and therefore of posing a high risk of espionage.

Mixed success on 5G

It is in this same perspective that the Americans are working to convince their allies to banish the Chinese from access to the market for equipment for 5G, the new standard in mobile telephony which must increase speed and transmission capacity. With mixed success, however: London and the European Union allow the use of certain Huawei components in the future 5G infrastructure.

Trump no longer wants to speak to Xi Jinping

These new restrictions on Huawei will apply in four months. A period during which the semiconductors already produced can still be delivered.

The fact remains that these new sanctions should still strain relations already undermined by the Covid-19 pandemic, which started in China. What Donald Trump reproached Friday in Beijing. The day before, he had threatened to sever all relations with the Asian giant and assured that he no longer wished to speak "  for the moment  " to his president Xi Jinping.

Taiwan in the crosshairs

The move could pose serious problems for the large Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing groups supplying Huawei. Coincidence of the calendar or not, Mike Pompeo, the head of the American diplomacy, hailed overnight a $ 12 billion investment in Arizona by the Taiwanese giant of microchips TSMC, big supplier of Apple.

Mike Pompeo placed this investment strategically and took the opportunity to indirectly criticize the Chinese regime. TSMC's announcement comes at a critical time, when China is trying to dominate high tech and control crucial sectors,  " he wrote in an email released after midnight on Friday.

To listen: Installation of a Huawei factory in France: "This will not alter our ambition in terms of national security"

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